IATA’s Tyler Calls for “Silk Road in the Sky” in Central Asia
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) established 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 recent economic success, and air travel in Kazakhstan grew by 22 percent in 2011.
IATA’s Director General and CEO Tony Tyler called on the governments of Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the Caucasus to utilize air transport as a catalyst for economic growth and development. “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,” Tyler said. “But turning the long-term potential of the region into reality requires urgent attention to safety and the provision of cost-efficient airport infrastructure.” Tyler made his remarks in a keynote address to the Central Asia and Caucasus Aviation Day being held in Astana, Kazakhstan.
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.
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,” Tyler said. “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).
“A commitment to globally recognized standards,” said Tyler, “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.”
“Growth in connectivity,” said Tyler, “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.”
“It is 18 percent more expensive to turn around an Airbus A320 in Almaty than at similarly sized airports in Europe. And the differential rises to 43 percent 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.