Open skies initiative proposed for Almaty airport

ASTANA – The open skies initiative proposed for Almaty International Airport will boost tourism and the country’s attractiveness, said Kazakh Tourism Board Deputy Chairperson Timur Duissengaliyev. The national company expects to create a plan to develop air services in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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“Today, the tourism sector is accounting for only 1 percent of the total gross national product (GNP). We have ambitious goals to reach 8 percent of the GNP by 2023. The development of air services is of great importance,” he said at a Dec. 4 press conference in the capital.

The open sky policy will be considered based on the positive experience at the capital airport, as the programme was introduced in May for EXPO 2017.

“We want to continue this experiment. We are currently negotiating with the government to introduce the open skies initiative at Almaty airport. If we want to develop tourism in Kazakhstan, we need to understand that there are so-called growth points to boost travel in the country. We essentially have two starting points – Almaty and Astana,” he said.

The international experience does have some negatives, he added, indicating the national carriers went into bankruptcy after introducing the policy, but noted “there is a need to find a certain balance to make the Air Astana company competitive.”

“The policy will be implemented in stages. We are now planning to collaborate with the IATA on the programme until 2030. We will decide what year to introduce the initiative, what should be done and what measures should be taken to develop regional aviation,” said Duissengaliyev.

Kazakh Tourism intends to cooperate with IATA in terms of research and analysis of domestic air transport communication until 2030.

“The IATA will make an analytical review to develop a long-term policy in air services and international flights. Our country has huge transport and transit potential. It is important to learn how to make Kazakhstan available in terms of air traffic and to forecast potential flows,” he said.

A regional aviation network will be also established.

“There were 100 landing grounds in the country during the Soviet era and this made it possible to solve the issues in the most remote areas of our country. The regional aviation is not well developed. Transport and air transport accessibility is a key factor influencing destination choice,” he said.

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