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23 May 2019

Epi(Central) Asia - a real priority for Aviation

Dushanbe, the picturesque capital of Tajikistan hosted the first meeting of the Central Asia Airline CEO Roundtable Series on 13 May. The meeting was co-hosted by Captain Tom Hallam II, CEO of Somon Air and the Civil Aviation Authority of Tajikistan, with CEOs and top management from 5 other airlines (Air Astana, QAZAQ Air, AviaTraffic, SCAT Airlines, Uzbekistan Airways) in attendance from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

 An IATA delegation was invited to provide input and expertise on the various key topics and discussions throughout the day. These include:

  • Safety: Airlines are fully embracing the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) standards and are calling upon governments to update the obsolete national legislations
  • Increasing the competitiveness of the aviation industry in our markets. Unlocking the full potential of the benefits aviation brings to our societies is key, and can be achieved by:
           o applying international standards and practices, particularly in the field of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Regulations,
           o remaining states ratifying MC99 as a particular example.
  • Upgrading Air Traffic Management by introducing Performance-Based Navigation and increasing airspace efficiency.
  • Addressing cost-base issues, fees and charges, in particular the issues of redundant import duties, airport charges and reliable fuel supplies at competitive prices.

As Captain Hallam noted: “Our ambition is to follow-up these discussions with agreements on viable solutions designed to move the aviation agenda forward, convincing governments of the indisputable benefits aviation can bring to economies and societies Only by joining forces and speaking in a single voice will it become possible to achieve the projected growth and drive the aviation agenda in the region.” For this reason, the aforementioned key topics have been transposed to a Memorandum of Understanding that the 6 Central Asian airline CEOs will sign shortly.

The ultimate goal for Central Asia is intraregional connectivity… but also to further connect the region with the rest of the world. Increasing connectivity between the capitals of the various countries in the area would serve as an excellent example of the benefits aviation can bring.

For Jordan Karamalakov, IATA’s Area Manager for Central Asia: “Air transport competitiveness is crucial as the industry will witness a doubling of passenger numbers in the next 20 years. Central Asia -an area with strong development potential- will play an important role in this quest, and IATA is ready to provide all the necessary support and knowledge to our members and industry, including working with governments and national authorities to address the challenges linked to this growth.”

The participants agreed to make this a continuous discussion forum, and the next Central Asia Airline CEO Roundtable Series meeting has already been planned for October, when the group will monitor the progress made.

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From left to right: Raimonds Gruntins (Director Regional Affairs Europe, IATA), Capt. Tom Hallam II (CEO, Somon Air), Ikrom Subhonzoda (Director, CAA Tajikistan), Suhrob Juraev (CEO First Deputy, Somon Air)

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