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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Debt May Ground Kazakh State Airline

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The planes of Kazakhstan's national airline will be grounded within the next three months if the airline is not restructured and given financial support, an aviation official said Monday.

The airline, Aue Zholy, is on the verge of bankruptcy with a debt of more than $10 million, and its planes need repair and new equipment, said Nurlan Akhmukhanov, president of the Azamat airline.

"I'm an aviation specialist with more than 20 years of experience and use my right as a private citizen to express my opinion," said Akhmukhanov.

In a newspaper article published Saturday, he suggested two possibilities for saving the airline.

Aue Zholy can either remain a state-owned airline, which would require the government to pay $120 million to $150 million a year over the next four years to renew the planes -- or declare itself bankrupt and undergo reorganization and privatization, Akhmukhanov wrote.

Aue Zholy representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.

Deputy Transport and Communication Minister Serik Buranbayev also voiced security concerns regarding the airline. Buranbayev said Kazakhstan presently has 20 airlines but only about two-thirds of them are operating.

Because of problems with Aue Zholy, flight cancellations and delays of 24 or more hours have become the norm. Western businesses have repeatedly complained about the unrealiabity of the flights and the danger of being stranded in remote areas of the Central Asian country.