What is the state of the national air fleet today and is there any hope for Kyrgyz aircraft to return to the sky of Europe?
Up in the air
The main and so far unrealizable dream of Kyrgyzstan is withdrawal from the black list of the European Union and ICAO. The republic is actively working to regain the right to fly to Europe. This year, the dream has become closer than ever.
It is planned to withdraw domestic aviation from the blacklist of ICAO in 2019.
The Ministry of Transport noted that all conditions in the field of civil aviation had been created for this. For example, salary was increased by 100 percent, pilots are trained in accordance with the requirements. In 2018, ICAO President personally visited Kyrgyzstan. A number of questions on reforming the civil aviation system have been worked out with him.
ICAO audit passed without special comments. As of September 1 of this year, the plan of corrective measures has been fulfilled by 93 percent. The Civil Aviation Agency of the Kyrgyz Republic conducts seminars to improve the skills of the inspectors.
«To withdraw from the blacklist, we compiled a step-by-step plan, which we are currently implementing. We reformed the Civil Aviation Agency. Inspectors from France came, inspected our system and left without special remarks. We got off the ground. We created two laboratories. One issues certificates of safety of equipment, and the second issues certificates of compliance to the personnel who are responsible for the safety of aircraft. We have fulfilled this requirement of ICAO,» Minister of Transport and Roads of Kyrgyzstan Zhamshitbek Kalilov commented on the situation to 24.kg news agency.
Next year, Kyrgyzstan plans to obtain an ICAO certificate.
After it the republic would be able to apply for withdrawal from the black list of the European Union. One can only hope that no one and nothing will prevent the return of long-awaited direct flights from Kyrgyzstan to Europe.
Airports grow and develop
Withdrawal from the blacklist of the EU and ICAO is not just a task of the Ministry of Transport and Roads. Manas airport is also working on it.
In 2017, the airport was audited by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in terms of aviation security and facilitation. Following the results of the audit, the experts gave a positive assessment of the aviation security measures taken at Manas airport.
A new program on aviation safety was approved in preparation for the audit. Modern automated electronic access control system in the restricted area was introduced. Video surveillance cameras, high resolution IP cameras have been updated, new services — cynology, profiling and others — have been created.
Much more has been done at Manas airport. Modernization of airports and equipment continued in 2018 as well.
A separate arrival zone for local airlines has been operating since autumn. Earlier, the airport had a sector for passengers departing by local flights, but there was no separate lounge for those arriving. In addition, Manas International Airport Company is actively repairing regional airports.
The results of investments were not long in coming. In the first nine months of this year, Manas International Airport Company has served 2,667,862 people, at least 907,798 of them — on domestic airlines, 1,760,064 people — on international routes.
Manas International Company has served an average of 9,800 passengers daily in 2018, and 8,300 passengers — in 2016.
During the same period, 23,667 flights have been operated, 15,630 flights of them — in international directions, and in domestic — 8,037.
Open sky for all
Another important point that has been actively discussed in Kyrgyzstan over the past year is the Open Skies policy. Amendments to the Air Code have been submitted to the Parliament for consideration. They give all countries that have expressed a desire to perform international flights through the Kyrgyz Republic the right of the fifth air freedom. Thus, the republic plans to increase passenger traffic and the number of tourists.
A part of the deputies opposed the initiative, fearing that it would «kill» domestic airlines. The logic is simple: small Kyrgyz carriers will not be able to compete with international aviation giants.
However, in the end, the desire to quickly make flights easier and more accessible outweighed. Just last week, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan adopted in the third reading amendments to the Air Code. The bill was sent to the president for signature. If the head of state agrees with the deputies’ opinion, the number of flights and airlines present in the country’s market will increase significantly next year. So, the air travels will become more accessible for the Kyrgyzstanis.