Building the “Silk Road in the Sky” via Kazakhstan

• Category: Kazakhstan
MONTREAL (IATA press service) – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the governments of Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Caucasus to utilize air transport as a catalyst for economic growth and development.
Photo of Transaero plane in Almaty Airport

Almaty Airport has an advantageous geographical location on the route from South-Eastern Asia to Europe and back. Currently the airport staff works hard to improve the facilities making able the technical landing of and cargo transportations with large aircrafts such as Boeing 747.
Many leading foreign air companies have chosen Almaty Airport for implementing regular flights and technical landings: Lufthansa, Korean Air, KLM, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, China Xinjiang Airlines, Iran Air, Transaero, Volga-Dnepr, Air France, EL-AL and Air Freighting Express LTD.

“Kazakhstan sits at the crossroads of East and West. And with double-digit growth in air traffic demand across the whole of Central Asia and the Caucasus it is an emerging success story – a Silk Road in the Sky. But turning the long-term potential of the region into reality requires urgent attention to safety and the provision of cost-efficient airport infrastructure,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. Tyler made his remarks in a keynote address to the Central Asia and Caucasus Aviation Day being held in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Safety

Tyler highlighted the need to improve safety in the region. In 2011 the air transport industry recorded one accident for every 2.7 million flights using Western-built jet aircraft. In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), there was one accident for every 940,000 flights – three times worse than the global average.

“Flying should be as safe in Kazakhstan and across Central Asia and the Caucasus as it is anywhere else in the world. Adopting global standards such as the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) will help. The safety record for the 25 airlines in the CIS on the IOSA registry is five times better than the region’s non-IOSA carriers. I urge governments across Central Asia and the Caucasus to incorporate the IOSA and ISAGO into their oversight programs as have the governments of 11 countries including Turkey, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt,” said Tyler.

An early priority is for Kazakhstan is to meet all the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program (USOAP). “IATA will play its full part in this effort, but it is important that the commitment, which is clearly present at senior government level, produces results throughout the aviation community in the country,” said Tyler.

“Such a commitment to globally recognized standards will improve safety performance and make a compelling case for the European Union to review its evaluation of the region,” said Tyler, referring to the EU list of banned carriers. Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic are among the states whose carriers are banned from flying to Europe. Air Astana serves Europe, on an exceptional basis and with restrictions.

Cost-Efficient Airport Infrastructure

Growth in connectivity is in danger of being compromised by airport infrastructure that is comparatively expensive and not keeping pace with demand growth.

“The plans for a new terminal at Almaty airport in Kazakhstan are welcome, but the capacity increase lags the growth projections. We need to think strategically to ensure that economic opportunities are not artificially constrained by lack of infrastructure,” said Tyler. IATA is partnering with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Transport and Communications to ensure that airline requirements are met as it attempts to ensure that 15 of the country’s 20 airports comply with ICAO requirements by 2020.

At the same time, IATA is urging the Kazakhstan government to follow ICAO principles and eliminate differential ANSP charges between domestic and international carriers. Moreover, IATA is urging the implementation of independent economic regulation to safeguard international principles and standards, ensure investment in capacity and quality initiatives, and enforce a transparent consultation process for both setting charges and deciding on investments. “It is 18% more expensive to turn around an Airbus A320 in Almaty than at similarly-sized airports in Europe. And the differential rises to 43% for a Boeing 767. My concern grows when you see that costs are increasing, instead of becoming more competitive,” said Tyler.

ICAO has established principles for airport charges and development fees, including full and transparent consultation, cost-benefit analysis, and service-level agreements. “When followed correctly, these principles result in a proper balance between paying for facilities and new infrastructure, and allowing for businesses to enjoy profitable growth,” said Tyler.

IATA’s Presence

IATA announced the establishment of its first office in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Attached to the IATA European regional office in Madrid, an IATA presence has been established in Astana.

The development of air connectivity has been a key contributor to Kazakhstan’s phenomenal economic success, and air travel in Kazakhstan grew by 22% in 2011 (compared to 2010). “For the landlocked expanse of Central Asia, at the crossroad of some of the world’s greatest markets, the potential for aviation to drive economic growth and development is almost without limit. IATA is committed to working alongside all stakeholders in Central Asia and the Caucasus for the safe, efficient and sustainable development of air transport,” said Tyler.