KHARKIV, Ukraine – Senior aviation industry leaders gathered in Kharkiv, Ukraine, earlier this week to investigate the shape and direction of the region’s aviation industry at the inaugural Routes CIS Strategy Forum. The future and the potential of the route network in the CIS, as well as the importance of cooperation between airlines and airports, were top of the agenda.
In the first session, the panelists explored the future of air transport in the region. Simon McNamara, general manager of infrastructure and environment, European Airline Association (ERA), drew a comparison between the CIS and the European market, explaining that the air transport industry in the CIS is at the same level now as Europe’s industry was 20 years ago. Air transport services were dominated by bilateral agreements, which cause limited capacity, pricing, frequency, and access to the market, McNamara said. He looked at the key factors shaping the industry’s future and mentioned that once a liberalization was in progress, there would be rapid growth, increased competition, and reduced cost of air travel in the CIS.
Sergey Fomenko, vice president of sales and marketing, Ukraine International Airlines, stressed that good infrastructure was one of the keys to success in developing a good route network. Saying that, in light of the European Football Championship in 2012, they “are now promoting the country, but we have to be ready for all those tourists.” It was important for airports to know which passengers they want to see and when, he believed. But he is hopeful that the future of air transport in the CIS region “will be bright – as bright as Europe’s.”
There was also a presentation from Anatoliy Nikolaevich Trotsenko, president of the Ukrainian Airports Association, who gave his views on the positioning of his member airports and recent traffic growth. Ilya Burkin, sales director Russia and CIS for SITA, remarked on the changes he had observed during his travels within the CIS and the improvements that are needed regarding customer service and facilities. Using the new airport terminal at Kharkiv Airport as an example, he addressed the general requirement for modernization in the region.
In the second session, which was moderated by Tony Griffin, COO of ASM, Routes’ official consultant, the focus lay on the cooperation between airlines and airports. Yuliya Crane, research and analysis manager at ASM, set the scene by talking about the developments of the region’s air transport industry in recent years and highlighted that the CIS will receive 1,000 additional aircraft by 2028, a good prospect for airport/airline relationships of the future. Stanislav Zeman, aviation business, marketing and product management executive director, Prague Airport, explained how important it is to build good relationships with airlines. Co-branding with partner carriers, familiarization trips for tour operators and journalists, as well as route development events, such as Routes, are strategies the airport employs, he commented.
Following this, McNamara looked at the real airport/airline relationship, asking whether it was a customer/provider relationship, whether the two parties were partners, or whether there was just mutual distrust. “The real answer is that they need each other,” he said. Therefore, he urged the two parties to improve their cooperations and pointed out that Routes provided the interaction needed.
All panelists agreed that there is massive potential in the region, but that a lot of work has to be done to reach an Open Skies agreement. The forum once again provided a platform for discussions about the opportunities and challenges the region is facing.
To find out more about all Routes events and to register to attend, visit www.routesonline.com .