Air Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan, is to launch a low cost carrier.

FlyArystan is due to take off in the first half of 2019 with an initial fleet of four 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft, rising to at least 15 by 2022.

The budget offshoot will fly from multiple aircraft bases in Kazakhstan with routes and aircraft bases to be announced over the coming months.

The start-up will operate a classic low cost carrier model, following the examples of easyLet, Indigo, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia.

It will offer low fares – approximately half of what Air Astana offers today – on mostly domestic routes. But it is expected to expand onto regional international routes in the mid-term.

FlyArystan’s management team has been appointed and is drawn from Air Astana’s senior local managers, whom the airline has been developing for the last 16 years.

The team will be led by Tim Jordan, a British-Australian national with more than 15 years’ senior management experience at Cebu Pacific and Virgin Blue.

The carrier said that “all safety standards and regulatory processes to which Air Astana is subject, will automatically apply to FlyArystan”.

The company said: “Although FlyArystan will be a low cost airline, with very different service procedures to those of Air Astana, it is to be stressed that as a division of Air Astana, there will be no degradation of airline safety or reliability standards.”

The low fare offshoot will be entirely self-funded. FlyArystan will require no capital from shareholders, no state subsidies or external financial support of any kind.

Air Astana president and CEO Peter Foster said: “FlyArystan is the result of much serious thought and internal business planning, and comes as a result of a rapidly changing local and regional airline business environment.

“It will be good for the mid to long-term prospects of Air Astana, and we hope, very welcome to the Kazakhstan travelling public, who will be able to benefit from significantly cheaper airfares on domestic and regional routes”.

Air Astana operates flights on more than 60 domestic and international routes from hubs in Astana and Almaty and is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s national wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna, and BAE Systems.