Central Asian aviation industry faces up to new challenges

Central Asian aviation Central Asian’s airline chiefs confront the need for more co-operation and transparency (Somon Air)

Governments of central Asian nations will only unleash the full economic power of their aviation potential, through the essential ingredients of increased connectivity and transparency, a round-table conference of the region’s airline chief executives has been urged.

A modernised and more progressive aviation environment in the region requires a much-needed adoption of “best international standards and practices”, factors that will stimulate and encourage investment in new, efficient infrastructure that will, in turn, provide “reasonable and transparent costs” – both in the air and on the ground, the executives heard.

The first ever round-table discussion for central Asian airlines’ chief executives took place at Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, and was co-hosted by Somon Air and the Civil Aviation Agency under the government of the Republic of Tajikistan and with the support of IATA.

Top managers from Air Astana, Somon Air, Qazaq Air, SCAT Airlines, Avia Traffic and Uzbekistan Airways examined the impediments for growth and development of air connectivity in central Asia, as well as matters concerning aviation safety, jet fuel supply and other key issues.

According to the latest IATA forecast, world aviation passenger traffic will double by 2037 and there will be an expected shift of the global economic axis from west to east. Consequently, passenger traffic in central Asian countries will grow significantly and therefore closer cooperation between all nations in the region is increasingly becoming more crucial.

The competitiveness of aviation in central Asia is currently affected by the severity of a number of specific aviation-related challenges facing each and every nation, matters which were scrutinised by the meeting of airlines, and which included:

– Aviation safety cannot be compromised. This is true not only for airlines but also for aviation-related bodies and especially safety oversight authorities, all of which must fully apply the international safety standards including in particular those of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) provisions; the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) technical standards; the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA); and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO).

– An appeal to governments to use best international practices regarding the application of taxation, Customs duties, airport charges and fees, and any other related costs. As an example, airlines already accept the importance of passenger data (API/PNR) processing for security purposes and that such systems should not be funded either by airlines or by their passengers. API/PNR is to be implemented without any fees and charges in 94 countries worldwide.

– For governments to unleash their full economic aviation potential, increased connectivity has become essential. “We are urging the [central Asian] states to adopt the best international standards and practices, invest and develop efficient infrastructure at reasonable and transparent cost both in the air and on the ground,” a statement from the event points out.

– Airlines are looking at increasing their cooperation with governments to work together on national aviation strategies to further promote the aviation industry and overcome the impediments for growth in the region.

The International Air Transport Association, which attended the roundtable meeting as an observer, was formally urged to support the initiative and provide its knowledge and subject-matter expertise on the above mentioned topics.

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