Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest metropolis, is set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains. It served as the country's capital until 1997 and remains Kazakhstan's trading and cultural hub. Landmarks include the Central State Museum, displaying thousands of historic Kazakh artifacts. In the center is Panfilov Park, home to the bright-yellow towers of Zenkov Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church.
The closest airport to Almaty is Almaty International Airport located 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the northeast.
The airport was built in 1935, for all small civil/military flying ships. Up to 1990 it was the part of Kazakh Department of Civil Aviation, and then reorganized into "Alma-Ata Airport" in 1991. Since 1993 it has run as an independent business unit. In 1994, it was reorganized into OJSC "Almaty Airport" and later renamed to JSC Almaty International Airport.
The supersonic transport (SST) Tupolev Tu-144 began service on 26 December 1975, flying mail and freight between Moscow and Alma-Ata in preparation for passenger services, which commenced in November 1977. The Aeroflot flight on 1 June 1978 was the Tu-144's 55th and last scheduled passenger service.
Following a runway reconstruction in 1998, Almaty airport was awarded II category and status of an International Airport.
On 9 July 1999 a fire started in the shashlik kitchen of the airport restaurant. The terminal building burned down in just a few hours, fortunately without major injuries.
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