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Guram Jalaghonia

Guram Jalaghonia: The Year of 2015 Brought Stability to Aviation Sector

The Georgian Civil Aviation Agency (GCAA) has finished the process of improving shortcomings detected after the 2013 ICAO audit.

Currently, Georgia and its aviation segment has twice better indicators compared to the 2007 audit, the agency head Guram Jalaghonia noted and positively appraised the 2015 performance. He outlined several reforms, particularly, Georgia’s undertaking for regulating drones. The year of 2015, as well as several past years, was stable for the aviation sector of Georgia with positive dynamics of turnover and safety guarantees, he added.

– What reforms were carried out and what innovations were introduced into the Georgian aviation sector through 2015?

– The agency has zealously worked throughout the year and this factor is the most important for the country and the agency in itself, I think. We have already finished improving all shortcomings that were exposed under the 2013 audit. As reported, the 2013 audit outlined our growth in terms of aviation supervision issues, in almost all directions for fulfillment of the ICAO requirements. Today Georgia and its aviation management have twice better indicators compared to the 2007 audit report. Nevertheless, in the 2013 audit ICAO exposed errors in the process of certifying airplane exploiters. To remove these gaps, the agency has carried out all necessary measures: we have added changes to the corresponding normative acts, announced 6-month moratorium on registering new airlines, carried out new certification of exploiters of the existing airplanes. The process was carried out jointly with European inspectors, namely AustroControl and the Agency inspectors for flight safety. The due information was uploaded into the ICAO database. Under the ICAO regulations, at this stage, the uploaded information is being explored by ICAO.

We show maximum readiness to receive ICAO validation audit so as Georgia’s achievements be reflected into the ICAO indicators and all existing shortcomings be removed.

As to innovations, we have adopted many important normative acts in 2015 for upgrading flight security standards and fulfilling international liabilities. The agency has approved the general regulations for safety management and determined requirements to our aviation companies in terms of developing safety policy and goals, ensuring aviation safety and risks management. The agency has approved Guideline for Runway Security Group that calls for organizing local groups of airports of all participant parties with the aim to improve the runway safety level (airdrome exploiters, airlines, aviation service enterprises, civil aviation agency if necessary, and other aviation enterprises and experts). These groups will develop runways security plans and programs, work on determining and preventing risks.

The process of establishing these groups is underway and we have good expectations in this respect. By the initiative of the civil aviation agency, in January 2015 aviation search-rescue reaction plan was enacted to alleviate the outcomes of emergency situation after  aviation accidents in Georgia, as well as to minimize casualties, introduce a joint system of search and rescue and coordinate the performance of all chains of the system. The operation is underway in this direction too. An interdepartmental commission has been set up, several meetings were held , sectoral audits were underway to determine technical and human resources and how international liabilities are fulfilled in this direction.

The agency has also launched one undertaking that is an innovation in Georgia and the world aviation sector.

We follow the process jointly with international organizations and other aviation authorities in parallel regime – this is the regulation of drones. In this direction, this year the agency has set up a workgroup that will elaborate drones certification and exploitation regulations. The agency has joined the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS).

This step will establish European regulations and the best practice of exploitation of drones in Georgia. We have issued recommendations regarding safe exploitation of drones that will guide operators of drones (before the regulatory norms are enacted) where to operate, what restrictions run and how to protect flight safety norms.

– Does the agency think the year of 2015 was successful for the aviation sector?

The current year, as well as the past several years, was stable for the aviation sector. It brought positive dynamics and safety. No aviation accident was registered in the agency.

In January to November 2015, Georgian airports served 2 120 720 passengers by regular and irregular flights, up 13% compared to the same period of 2014. The passenger turnover considerably increased after restoration of regular flights between Georgia and Russia, as a result of technical consultations and negotiations between aviation authorities of Georgia and Russia.

In January to November 2015, the passenger turnover between Georgian and Russian destinations increased by 68% (up 128 794 passengers) compared to the same period of 2014. The restoration of regular flights has positively affected the number of passengers transported by the national airline that has transported 29 000 more passengers compared to the previous year.

– What are negative and positive factors that influenced Georgia’s air market in 2015?

– In general, we provide valuable prevention of negative factors in the civil aviation field. Naturally, the benchmark is the security of flights and passengers. To reduce and prevent negative factors, we apply the following leverages: technical and legal regulations, permanent supervision, security system management, notification of aviation events and so on.

As to commercial aspects, the unleashed hostilities, new conflict zones and intensified acts of terrorism generated temporary frustration in terms of flights worldwide.

In our case, the use of Georgian air ways was reduced. Moreover, flights were reduced to the direction of Ukrainian towns because of the hostilities there, but we think similar difficulties are of temporary character and the aviation sector immediately reacts for overcoming negative factors.

– Did new players appear in the Georgian air market in 2015? What projects are being carried out to make the Georgian air market more attractive and boost competition by introducing new players?

– In 2015 the following foreign airlines started regular flights from Georgian airports: Ellin air, Fly Baghdad (Regular), Enter Air, “Bek Air” (Charter). The civil aviation agency will continue the liberal course in 2016 too. Under the joint airspace agreement signed by Georgia, EU and its member countries (CAA-A), we will introduce several European regulations. Having fulfilled the liabilities under this agreement, the country will become a part of the joint airspace of Europe and this signifies both sides will open the air market. Introduction of European standards will make the Georgian air market more attractive for the new players in terms of flights security, its supervision, protection of passenger rights, access to the air market, qualification of aviation specialists, arranging air traffic, security and other main directions.

It should be also noted, under the legal authorities and competences, the agency remains open for acting organizations and seeker organizations in the aviation industry. Permanent consultations are provided on such issues as a commencement of operation in Georgia, implementing aviation activities, receiving any services from the agency, at all stages and formats.

– What are the agency plans and priorities in 2016?

– The agency gives priority to improving the flights security level, supervision quality, timely and consecutive fulfillment of international obligations, including under the CAA-A agreement.

To reach the determined goals, we plan to deepen our cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), with leading European aviation organizations and the aviation authorities.

Our objective is also to efficiently employ the project that was inaugurated at the agency by the EU financial support – Improvement of Structure and Potential of the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency for Efficient Establishment of the EU aviation legislation in Georgia, under the joint airspace agreement”, that will foster institutional and structural enhancement of our agency and this factor will assist us in attaining all the above-mentioned objectives.