TAV Georgia began its operations in 2005, after the completion of net terminal in Tbilisi International Airport the company was serving to 500,000 per year. Today, there are direct flights to more than 60 destinations operated by 50 different airlines and the number of passengers is over 4,000,000.
Forbes Georgia spoke with the General Manager of TAV Georgia, Mete Erkal, about the results of the company’s operations in Georgia and its future plans.
Erkal says that the company employs about 1,400 people across both Tbilisi and Batumi International Airports, but overall, the aviation industry is facing a shortage of qualified personnel and not so many things have changed in this field since TAV began its operations in 2005.
"Unfortunately, there is currently a shortage of qualified personnel in the aviation industry. We faced this problem when we began operating in 2005, and it can be said that the situation has not changed significantly since then. This is probably because the standard of professional education in Georgia is quite low. We, therefore, decided to establish a training centre in 2012; providing people with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and subsequent experience in aviation. Our training centre and its educational programmes have been certified by the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency. Most of our trainers have themselves undergone training at various IATA and ICAO centres across the world. Our training centre currently operates 36 educational programmes, providing people with knowledge and training in fields such as aviation security, passenger transfers, quality management systems, transportation of dangerous goods, aircraft centring and loading. We conduct emergency assistance courses both in Tbilisi and Batumi on a frequent basis. Our training centre trains up to 2,500 people in the private and public aviation sectors each year.
With regards to jobs, together with our subsidiaries we currently employ 1,400 people across both Tbilisi and Batumi International Airports. All our staff undergo training and acquire professional skills at our training centre. I am also proud to say that our airports have some of the most desirable jobs for graduates of the Georgian Aviation University. Helping these graduates with their careers is one of our priorities,"- says Erkal. Can you also tell us about any future plans for the Tbilisi International Airport?
"We are currently building six new aircraft ramps at Tbilisi International Airport, which will then mean it has 63 ramps in total. The works are due to be completed in June 2019. We also carried out fundamental upgrades to the equipment inside the airport, which will increase the speed and quality of service. TAV Georgia is investing 25 million GEL in infrastructural projects and renovation work this year." As in Tbilisi and Batumi, new flight routes are also being introduced at the international airport in Kutaisi. How would you assess the latter’s role in the development of local tourism? To what extent does Kutaisi compete with the airports in Tbilisi and Batumi?
"We are delighted to see the growth of tourism in Georgia, and all three international airports are playing their part in this process. Due to the sharp increase in the number of passengers in recent years, there was a need for another airport that would focus on low-cost carriers. Most countries across the world operate a similar model: the largest airports in the main cities are dominated by national flag carriers and large international airlines, while smaller airports that are located far away from the capital cities tend to serve budget airlines. It is good that Georgia has created a new market for low-cost airlines through Kutaisi International Airport.
TAV Holdings and their services are currently represented at 79 airports in 23 countries across the world. TAV Airports also operates in other fields, such as duty-free shopping, catering, ground handling services, information technology and security services. In 2012, the French state-owned company Aéroports de Paris Group purchased a 38% stake in TAV Airports, and later increased this to 46.12%. Consequently, TAV and the ADP Group collectively served 281 million passengers last year."
Full article on Forbes Georgia Website - TAV Georgia’s arch over the Georgian airspace