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Early ban on foreign charter flights from Kazakhstan may send many bankrupt

19 july 2013, 14:38
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©REUTERS
©REUTERS
Kazakhstan Tourist Association has asked the authorities to postpone introduction of the ban on foreign charter flights from Kazakhstan until November 1, 2013, the Association’s Director Rashida Shaikenova told Tengrinews.kz.

The Tourism Commission has posted on its official page in Facebook that after several meetings it was decided to postpone the ban on foreign charter flights until October 1, 2013. However, Shaikenova said, there was not official response from the Civil Aviation Commission on postponing of the ban.

According to her, tourism has some specifics. Kazakhstan tourist companies sign contracts in autumn or winter for the charter flights to be made in summer. “That means that we have signed contracts with airlines in 2012 for summer 2013. Signing of such contracts requires a security deposit to be made. Kazakhstan has been using this early booking system for several years. In December 2012 they were selling tickets for summer. We are helping our tourists learn to plan their vacations. One of the conditions of the early booking is that the tickets are not refundable," Shaikenova said.

70 thousand tourists will fly off for vacations from Kazakhstan between the second half of July to the end of October this year, she said. The average cost of one trip is $1,500. Should the ban be introduced on July 21, their vacations will be at risk. “We will have yet another collapse. The airlines will not return the money. They planned these flights and now we are telling them that we will terminate the contracts within 10 days before the flights. We will not get the money in the middle of the season,” she said. The tourists will have to switch to Kazakhstan airlines but will have to buy the tickets again. The social aspect of this issue is very serious, Shaikenova noted.

“This will have an effect not only on the consumers, but also on small business: on around 5 thousand agencies. That’s why we have appealed to Kazakhstan Prime-Minister Serik Akhmetov and Minister of Industry and New technologies Asset Issekeshev with a request to allow Kazakhstan business to continued working along the signed agreements until November 1. We have ask the government to support us in our efforts to duly perform our obligations to our tourists,” Shaikenova said. According to her, the Civil Aviation Commission said at the meeting that the issue was being considered and that they understood our problems.

When asked if she planed to file any lawsuits in case the deadline is not postponed, Shaikenova said: “We had a meeting with the Civil Aviation Commission's work group to consider different options, including the lawsuits. Our lawyers have reviewed the Kazakhstan law on private entrepreneurship and found two violations: the draft law had not been coordinated with us before it was adopted, the way it should have been, and secondly, one of the law’s articles says: Should a regulation be harmful to entrepreneurship in the country, a period of time should be provided for the firms to be able to switch to the new processes in line with the legislation. So we are considering applying to the Kazakhstan General Prosecutor’s Office. I hope that we will not have to do that, through,” Shaikenova said.

According to her, Kazakhstan’s tourism market is supportive of the authorities’ decision to ban foreign companies from making chartered flights from Kazakhstan. Representatives of the tourist businesses in Kazakhstan are bearing annual losses related to negligence of some of their Turkish partners. Kazakhstan air-carriers would be providing more guarantees for the tourist companies. However, they need time to switch to the new system.

Besides, she said, the delay is necessary not only for tourist businesses but also for Kazakhstan airlines. “This is a serious problem. Insufficient number of aircrafts, insufficient quality services and catering onboard. Air Astana says that it cannot make the required flights as it lack technical capacities to do so. Besides, it is their policy: they don’t deal with charter flights. SCAT says that they can cover only a half of the market demand. Only three very small companies remain besides the two big ones. They have 2-3 planes each. Meanwhile, we have contracts with foreign companies for charter flights from different cities of Kazakhstan: Aktobe, Aktau, Atyrau, Karaganda, Kostanay and others,” Shaikenova said.

Kazakhstan initially tried to introduce the ban on foreign charter flights starting from July 21. The regulation was called to give greater guarantees to passengers and ensure better control over flights safety, the Commission explained. Meanwhile, media reported that Turkish authorities were allegedly preparing an ultimatum to Kazakhstan over the charter flights ban.


By Assemgul Kassenova

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