Aviation in Kazakhstan: today and tomorrow

Sept 21. Kazpravda

By Asel Mukanova

Aviation in Kazakhstan: today and tomorrowAir flights are considered the safest way of traveling in the world. And the number of air travelers in Kazakhstan, where much is done to reveal the huge potential of the industry, is increasing.

“I want to fly…”

The civil aviation in Kazakhstan is dynamically developing. Thus, if in 2009 the domestic airlines transported 2.6 million passengers, in 2010 – 3.4 million, already in 2011 their number reached 4.1 million. The forecast for the current year is 4.7 million passengers. 27 foreign companies carry out the flights to our country. Kazakhstani citizens can fly directly to 30 largest cities of the world. And before the end of 2015, local airlines are planning to open 30 new international routes.

The country has 20 airports, 10of which are categorized by the standards of the ICAO, and Astana and Almaty airports have a third category for flights in bad weather. Officials from the MTC say that over time, all Kazakh airports will transfer to international standards of quality of customer service. For example, the airport with the passenger turnover of 1 million a year should have no less than 558 parking spaces, an arrival time of service should not exceed 45 minutes at the departure of fly of one hour.

However, the Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tony Tyler, who visited Astana during the IATA Aviation Day called the existing infrastructure of our airports relatively expensive, which can not cope with the growing demand. In his view, air harbors of Astana and Almaty, even after the reconstruction, can not cope with the rapid growth of passenger traffic. “We must think strategically to ensure the potential for economic growth; -said T. Tyler at the international forum in Astana and recommended to address these issues together with the administrations of airports and air companies. At the same time, the MTC in partnership with the IATA make efforts to standardize 15 domestic airports by 2020.

The main question of aviation at that is not comfort, but safety. T. Tyler cited the following figures: of all accidents in 2011, the western half-globe accounts for one accident per 2.7 million flights and the CIS flights- for one per 940 thousand. I.e. our situation is worse by almost 3 times.

Today there are 112 aircrafts in the Kazakh fleet, including 60 planes of western production and 52 were built in the Soviet Union.

However, according to the chairman of the Committee of Civil Aviation Beken Seydahmetov, from November 1, 2012 the exploitation of more than 20 jets of An-24 and Yak-40 will be prohibited. They will be replaced by the “Airbus”, “Boeing” and “Embraer” – 17 planes during 2012-2013. In addition, $ 540 million will be allocated up to 2016 to seven airports for renovation and purchase of machinery. Also a pilot project was launched for electronic pre-declaration of goods, and e-freight is scheduled for 2015.

How and when will we withdraw from the “black list”?

Against the background of positive dynamics and great prospects, the inclusion of the Kazakh air carriers in the so-called “black list” of the European Committee on aviation security is unpleasant. The EU and Kazakhstan have been partners since our sovereignty. According to the head of the EU Delegation to RK Aurelia Bush, today the EU accounts for about 50% of the total foreign trade of Kazakhstan and more than 60% of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan comes from the EU. And although, according to Beken Seydahmetov, the restrictions of domestic airlines’ flights to the EU do not affect the trade relations, but have an impact only on the passenger transportations, the inclusion in the “black list” does not grace our republic. The landlocked country should develop its huge potential in aviation.

Recall: the restrictions were introduced in 2009 after the audit of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which presented two claims to Kazakhstan: first- the aviation legislation of the RK does not comply with the requirements of the ICAO; the second is the absence of control of the authorized body over the aviation industry.

As noted Vice-Minister of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan Azat Bekturov, no country passes this test without any claims. But now our challenge is to eliminate all the defects and restore the prestige of the country. By the way, the company “Air Astana”, which is on the “gray list” continues to have 16 frequencies in the EU, but it cannot open new routes and, what is even more absurd, replace ships, flying to Europe by newer aircrafts. Even the head of IATA Tony Tyler said that this approach is incorrect.

– The “Black list” does not ensure safety of flights. It is unclear how these lists are created and by whom, – he said at the Aviation Day in Astana. – One of the top priorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan is fulfillment of all ICAO requirements, laid down in the Universal Audit Program for the Control of Flight Safety (USOAP). The IATA will play its key role in this area, but the main thing is that the commitments, taken at the highest level of government should bring results. Such recognition of the internationally approved standards will enhance the safety of flights and form the convincing arguments in order to make the European Union revise its own estimates of the region.

RK Government has taken concrete steps to withdraw from the “black list” of the EU. An action plan to address the comments of the ICAO audit, which is overseen by First Vice-Premier Serik Akhmetov, was adopted, as well as the new Law “On use of airspace of the Republic of Kazakhstan and aviation”, which meets the requirements of ICAO, and 104 legal acts aimed at its implementation.

In addition, an agreement on technical cooperation was signed with the ICAO Bureau for provision of technical advice to the Committee of Civil Aviation. An individual plan of ICAO for RK will be implemented and ICAO specialists – attracted for the training and education of the inspecting staff.

Head of the Civil Aviation Committee Beken Seidakhmetov believes that it is necessary to increase motivation of professionals, who perform control functions, i.e. to provide supplements to wages. The proposals have been already submitted for consideration.

Sky Silk Road

The Ministry does not voice the time of our withdrawal from the “black list” of the EU. In the Government the issue of taking steps for that was voiced before the end of 2010. The Vice Minister also cautiously expressed his opinion on the timing – after a year.

In general, the Day of the IATA Aviation in Kazakhstan, which for the first time hosted this forum among the countries of Central Asia and Caucasus, is very significant. According to the head of IATA, it is assumed that in 2012 about 3 billion people in the world and more than 47 million tons of goods will the carried by planes. The airline industry is expected to grow earnings, which is a global business, to 3 billion dollars. At that the Europeans are suffering losses, and the Chinese, by contrast, are thriving.

– Kazakhstan is in the center, and having arrived here, I felt the contagious energy of a fast-growing economy. Today a kind of Silk Road in the sky is developing and Kazakhstan plays an important role in that, – said Tony Tyler, speaking at the forum in Astana.