Tengrinews reports citing the Kazakhstan Tourist Association (KTA).
Director of the association Rashida Shaikenova reminded of the legislative changes introduced into the law “On use of Kazakhstan air space and aviation activities” in July 2013. The amendments are called to supporting development of the local aviation. And shut foreign air carriers from the country's charger flights market. But since the summer tourist season of 2013 was very busy, the actual introduction of the adopted legislative changes was postponed. However, according to Ms. Shaikenova, there are problems that can become worse next summer.
“There is a danger that next summer’s tourist season will be limited or non-existent. We (tour agencies) won’t be able to serve all our customers because the Kazakhstani air carriers cannot handle such a magnitude of tourists,” said Shaikenova. She also added that the number of tourists traveling abroad grew by 20% every year.
According to the KTA Director, the shortage of air carriers is created by the changes in the law that ban foreign charter companies from making flights from Kazakhstan. The local commercial aviation is represented by only two major companies – Air Astana and SCAT - which undermines the competitive landscape. And all the new air companies that could help resolve the flight shortage problem are facing difficulties with obtaining the permission from the Civil Aviation Committee (CAC) of Kazakhstan to start making the flights. Their difficulties are related to the Committee's unwillingness to approve the new air carriers' “wet leasing”, which implies that the lessor is responsible for maintaining, overhauling and insuring the aircraft.
A Kazakhstan lawyer Irina Samoilova said that the CAC explained the refusal to “wet lease” referring to the changes in the above law. She gave the example of two new Kazakh air companies that made an agreement on “wet leasing” of aircrafts with a Turkish air company, but the deal wasn't finalized because the CAC did not sign the approval.
Ms. Shaikenova explained that the Kazakhstan Tourist Association had not objections to working with Air Astana or SCAT, but nevertheless believed that newly established air companies could also be a valuable contribution to development of the local aviation.
The situation is made worse by the fact that most Kazakh air carriers had been “blacklisted” by the European Union, added Ms. Shaikenova.
As reported earlier, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication was planning on changing this situation by the end of 2013. The Ministry is cooperating with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to solve this problem. The county's air carriers have a goal to meet the standards of the ICAO.
By Dmitriy Khegai