IATA has called on the governments of Central Asian states to boost their aviation infrastructure, as a means of driving economic development.
Speaking at the Central Asia & Caucasus Aviation Day, which was held in the Kazakh capital Astana last week, IATA’s Director-General & CEO, Tony Tyler said that the region’s governments need to pay “urgent attention” to the issues of aviation safety and airport infrastructure.
“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,” Tyler said.
On the issue of safety, IATA highlighted the fact that the safety record of CIS countries in 2011 was three times worse than the global average.
“Flying should be as safe in… Central Asia and the Caucasus as it is anywhere else in the world,” said Tyler. “The safety record for the 25 airlines in the CIS on the IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) 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 (the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations) into their oversight programmes,” he added.
“Such a commitment to globally-recognised 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 aviation blacklist. Kazakhstan (with the exception of Air Astana) and Kyrgyzstan are among the countries whose carriers are banned from European airspace.
IATA also highlighted the need for adequate airport infrastructure to cater for the increasing demand for air travel in the region.
“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 also announced the establishment of its first office in Central Asia and the Caucasus, located in Astana.
“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,” Tyler concluded.