On April 3rd and 4th Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Mugla, Turkey, hosted a conference exploring the key issues of Tourism, Safety and Travel Security. In attendance were various experts in the fields of tourism, safety and aviation security, including Mr. Selcuk Kileci, CEO Aktau International Airport, Kazakhstan and MS. Meruyert Zholdybaeva. Marketing & Quality Manager at Aktau International Airport, Aktau, Kazakhstan.
During the conference, this author had both the opportunity, and the pleasure, to sit down with these two experts and discuss the state of Civil Aviation within Kazakhstan today.
- Can you give our readers a brief overview of the civil aviation industry in Kazakhstan today with regard to both the short term objectives and long range goals for sustainable development?
As you know, Kazakhstan ratified the ICAO Chicago Convention in 1992. During the period between 1992 to today, aviation authorities of Kazakhstan conducted changes in civil aviation regulations in phases, in accordance with the signed international standards. Certainly this period cannot be called easy, if you take into account the additional challenges of developing other important aspects of the transport system of the State.
One can only note that this path has not been easy and continues to be challenging. During this period of development and change, however, the State leadership, understood the importance of the role of the transport system in the economic development of the country. As a result, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan directed Civil Aviation Authorities to address these issues and challenges with the goal of solving problems that may crop up. So earlier this year, the President signed a “Program of development and integration of transport infrastructure system of the Republic of Kazakhstan to 2020”. This program outlines the short and long term plans for the development of civil aviation:
The purpose of the Program in the Civil Aviation Industry is to meet the needs of the population and the economy through developing and maintaining quality and safety standards in civil aviation services.
To achieve these goals it is necessary to solve the following problems:
Task 1. Improve the legal regulation of civil aviation industry
Task 2. Development of ground infrastructure
Task 3. Development of general aviation
Task 4. Update the fleet
Task 5. Liberalization of the air market
Task 6. Training of personnel
Indicators of direct results.
Achievement of the objectives will be measured by the following indicators of direct results:
- With the recent intervention of ICAO in assisting the development of effective safety and security program implementation within Kazakhstan, what measures are currently being taken to ensure compliant civil aviation development within the country?
Experts from the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau have been working with us to address the discrepancies from the ICAO audit of 2009. Based on the successful outcome of this current ICAO mission, the aviation authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan will participate at the next hearing of the Committee on Security of the European Commission, to remove restrictions currently in force against Kazakh flights in the EU.
Qualified personnel, Civil Aviation Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan will work with experts from the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau. In addition, ICAO
experts will conduct training in the workplace for Kazakh inspectors.
In order to improve safety in 2015, plans have been put in place for the implementation of both IOSA and ISAGO standards and practices. The main focus of the airline industry in Kazakhstan, is the tightening the requirements to ensure safety and to gradually implement the required European standards by 2020.
Furthermore, ICAO opened a Regional Aviation Security Training Centre on September 3, 2013 at the Academy of Civil Aviation. The center provides training in aviation security, in accordance with ICAO requirements. The Center has expanded its scope to include vocational training “Kazaeronovigatsiya” for specialists within the civil aviation industry.
- What would you say are the greatest obstacles to expanding the civil aviation industry within the Region?
We can divide the main obstacles as follows:
- Lack of equipment (aircraft) and ground infrastructure (old airports and runways, few modern facilities)
- Monopoly regulation of aviation sector in charges and fees
- Transitioning to current international standards while supporting existing aviation system
- Lack of trained and certified staff in accordance with international standards
- How is Kazakhstan coping with the implementation of ICAO and ECAC Safety Management Systems (SMS) programs, and what oversight exists to ensure plans and programs are properly implemented and maintained at the local level?
For Kazakhstan, safety is nothing new. We can say that as beneficiaries of the Soviet system of safety and security, we have inherited a worthwhile legacy. Occupational safety and health has always been a priority in business particularly in the aviation industry. SMS, not only provides guidance, but a complete methodology for organization and implementation of safety measures. The office of the CAA has always been responsible for preparing the Safety Program and its follow-up. Historically, Kazakh airports have always had a Safety Inspector responsible for Safety control and preparing report for airport authority and CAC authority. Because of the importance of this issue, we think that CAC and local airport authorities can implement the Safety Management System within the five-year timeline as recommended by IACO.
- From a marketing perspective, what would you say to airlines contemplating opening routes to Aktau airport and other Kazak destinations?
We have 10 GOOD REASONS for airlines TO OPEN ROUTES TO AKTAU AIRPORT:
- Within the CIS countries, Kazakhstan enjoys the most foreign investments
- The highest income per capita is in Kazakhstan
- Aktau has been named as “INTENSIVELY DEVELOPING AIRPORT” AND «THE BEST AIRPORT IN CIS COUNTRIES»
- Aktau is the largest airport with the highest capacity and infrastructure
- Aktau is the only ISO 9001 certified airport in the region
- Aktau has the highest flight frequency and destinations in domestic connections after Astana and Almaty airports
- It is the only airport providing representative services and permissions support to Kazakhstan’s CAA
- Aktau has the most flexible prices
- Aktau has the capacity to expand traffic, and slots are easy to obtain
- Your concerns are our concerns, and we are very responsive to your needs
In Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Transport has prioritized pending transport projects, and looking ahead, to future logistical sites in the country, are focusing on the China–Russia transit corridor; there are a total of 12 proposed logistics centers included in the MOT’s strategy. Discussions with private sector transporters and freight forwarders indicated that the port of Aktau would be the most promising site for a new logistics centre in the country. It is located in a duty – free zone, is accessible by several modes of transportation (rail, road, water, air) and is already an important transport link in the TRACECA corridor.
- At the local (Airport) level, how involved are community stakeholders, and what role do they play in the maintenance, development and problem-solving for airport management?
Aktau airport is operated under the authority of the local state administration. So we have a lot of non-financial support from our Regional administration. This support includes our airport development projects. Problems and solutions also involve Government input, as well as other support in developing new or exist routes, etc.
- With your experience and position, what do you see as the future for Kazakh aviation, and the role it will play in Regional commercial development?
The advantage of our geographic position and correct policies from the State, with respect to the transportation system, will allow Kazakhstan to occupy a niche in the global transport logistics. As transportation demands increase with population and along with liberalization of aviation regulations in the country, the Government is also focusing on aviation cargo and transit.
Thus, in the State’s plans are as follows:
Task 1: Attracting transit goods, including shipment between China and the EU, which now bypasses Kazakhstan.
In order for Kazakhstan to develop trade and logistics and become the business hub of the Eurasian region, we will actively seek to establish cooperative relationships with world leaders in the field of logistics.
Cooperation will be established with the company «DP World» to aid in the development Aktau seaport terminal facilities and dry (Khorgos). This cooperation will contribute to the reciprocal linking of Kazakhstan to the East Gate and West Gate Khorgos Aktau port and multimodal transport. This will give a powerful impetus for the development of transport and logistics systems and the expansion of transit potentials of our country.
There will also be a comprehensive analysis of goods, primarily of goods critical delivery times, between Southeast Asia, China and the EU, passing through the territory of Kazakhstan Trans-Siberian railway, by sea route through the Suez Canal, as well as through the transport corridors of the Central Asian countries.
In addition, measures will be taken to promote the Kazakh transit corridors in foreign countries by sending promotional materials and informative brochures about Kazakhstani transport corridors through diplomatic channels and holding roadshow events.
Task 2. Development of transport corridors in the country and ensure their integration into the transport infrastructure outside of Kazakhstan.
To date, the bulk of transit cargo is transported on the following corridors:
1) Central Asian corridor (10 million tons in 2012 );
2) North – South (3 million tons in 2012 );
3) South TARM (2.7 million tons in 2012 );
4) North TARM ( 0.6 million tons in 2012 ) .
Given that the above corridors are already established as major transit corridors within the Republic of Kazakhstan, additional focus the framework will be the creation of other corridors, as well as improving the infrastructure of those presently in existence.
Coordination of the activities of the “Khorgos” seaport hub, and with Aktau Kazakhstan as the main transport hub in the international corridors “TRACECA” and “North-South”, will create an efficient route for the movement of goods from the western and central regions of China, Iran, the Gulf States, Turkey and Europe.
Task 3. Optimizing export, import and transit operations in Kazakhstan.
- With the changes and new requirements for implementation of ICAO Annex 19, can you briefly describe the role of the Quality Assurance Officer in ensuring ongoing compliance at Aktau airport, as example?
This year we created a group to develop an implementation plan for SMS based on Annex 19 ICAO and Doc 9859. The objective is to implement and integrate the standards and practices for SMS into the existing quality assurance program. In fact, the main targets of the two systems are very similar and quite compatible. Therefore, with the successful implementation of these two systems, we will ensure continuing improvement of the operation.
- What do you see as the role of continuing education in providing and maintaining quality aviation personnel across the board?
People learn by doing and by sharing. Not only is it important to train workers at the local level. It is also important to expose aviation professionals to best-practices on an international level that our personnel may bring back and share with their colleagues. Successful businesses do not necessarily reinvent the wheel, they use what exists and improve and adapt it to their needs. To this end, the airport annually sends its staff for training and exchange of experiences abroad.
“According to IATA 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. With the joint forces, raised goals can be achieved in the progress of development.”1
There can be no question, that Kazakhstan and Aktau airport can, and does live up to its reputation as the “Best airport within the CIS’. Proper planning, implementation and a vision of growth towards the future on the part of Civil Aviation officials provide a sound infrastructure for economic growth and prosperity.