BISHKEK, August 7 (TCA) — Last week a delegation from Lufthansa visited Bishkek to explore the possibilities and potential of Bishkek’s Manas International Airport (MIA) and business opportunities in Kyrgyzstan. In the future, the company intends to use the MIA as a place for refilling aircraft.
After analyzing opportunities in Kyrgyzstan, Lufthansa hopes to launch flights from Europe to Southeast Asia through Bishkek. The company is interested in the 4th or 5th degree of freedom to carry flights.
There are nine degrees of airspace freedom, and in Kyrgyzstan the fourth-freedom operates, which allows a plane to fly from point A to point B and fly back to point A. The fifth-freedom gives an air carrier the right to fly from point A to point B and then depart for point C.
In order to extend the freedom of flights, Kyrgyzstan needs to introduce an open skies regime, which is an international policy concept that calls for the liberalization of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry—especially commercial aviation. Its primary objective is to minimize government intervention as it applies to passenger, all-cargo, and combination air transportation as well as scheduled and charter services.
For open skies to become effective, a bilateral (and sometimes multilateral) Air Transport Agreement must be concluded between two or more nations.
Reconstruction of regional airports
The history of the Manas International Airport starts in May 1975 when the first regular flight from Moscow to Frunze (now Bishkek) was established. With time the small enterprise with some 80 employees has turned into one of Central Asia’s largest airports.
As a result of the airport’s renovation which included, along with the terminal’s and airfield’s modernization, the replacement of the landing and runway lighting facilities, the latter now meet the ICAO requirements.
Thanks to its advantageous location at the crossroad of trade routes to Asia and Europe, Manas may well develop into a major transit airport in Central Asia capable of servicing the ever-growing flow of passengers and freight from Europe to Asia and vice versa.
The Manas International Airport (MIA) JSC includes 11 airports throughout Kyrgyzstan. Along with Bishkek’s Manas airport, airports in Osh, Karakol, and in the village of Tamchi in the Issyk-Kul Oblast have international status. The other airports are located in the country’s regions and are used for domestic flights.
The Kyrgyz Parliament has drafted a law on the reconstruction of airports in the regions of Kyrgyzstan. The document contains preliminary data on the cost of the works. Each airport reconstruction requires a minimum of 150 million soms ($3.2 million). This amount includes the cost of repair of the runway and airport buildings, and the purchase of air navigation equipment.
In 2011, the Government tasked the MIA to urgently reconstruct the airports in Jalal-Abad, Batken and Isfana in the south of the country in order those airports could serve Western-made aircraft to replace Russian-made An-24 prohibited for use from January 1, 2012. However, due to the lack of funds the MIA and airlines have found a compromise solution — to buy western aircraft similar to An-24.
While the MIA management spoke of the lack of funds for the reconstruction of regional airports, in 2011 the company had a net profit of 1.275 billion soms. The net income has increased by 451.3 million soms compared with 2010.
The parliament proposes funding repairs of the regional airports through MIA’s dividends, which in 2010 amounted to 412.3 million soms. The MIA pays the state annual dividends from its net income. It is expected that 2012 dividends will be much higher.