For investors contemplating involvement in the Kurdistan Region, Slemani International Airport (SIA) has played an invaluable role in facilitating development. Travel within the Kurdistan Region can be challenging, with winding roads and frequent checkpoints. Thus, the international services provided by SIA have allowed for direct access for both business and tourism travelers alike. The statistics support this idea; the airport saw a 15% increase in total passengers between 2011 and 2012, and SIA Director General (DG) Tahir A. Qadir expects those numbers to continue to grow in 2013.

However, to continue this positive growth, DG Qadir has big things planned for the near future. The SIA “Cargo Village” is currently under construction, and is expected to be operational by the end of 2013. The airport already handles moderate amounts of cargo, but the new facility is expected to help turn SIA into a regional hub for cargo exchange. “We conducted an analysis of the Sharjah and Dubai Airports, specifically in regards to their relative distances from key export areas such as Europe and South Asia,” noted DG Qadir. “Our report confirmed that the routes into and out of Kurdistan were much shorter, meaning that cargo companies could utilize SIA in order to cut costs and save fuel. So, we strongly feel that our airport could play a major role in the future of global trade.

SIA currently connects the Kurdistan Region to 19 airports in 12 countries by 14 airlines, with new routes and carriers expected to come online throughout 2013 and 2014. Each week, the airport averages approximately 106 flights into and out of the Slemani Governorate, and the successful opening of “The Cargo Village” is expected to further increase that figure.

They then return to SIA, where they work to keep the airport running according to international procedures and regulations.

In order to facilitate this growth, DG Qadir has emphasized additional training courses for airport personnel to ensure that SIA functions according to international aviation standards. “Each year we send a number of our staff from a variety of different areas of operations to get additional training,” he explained. “They then return to SIA, where they work to keep the airport running according to international procedures and regulations.” Additional courses are conducted in the Region or at the airport itself, and help promote performance in all areas (although security has been prioritized significantly).

In its current layout, SIA has a total passenger capacity of 1.5 million travelers per year; however, with minor additions, that number could easily increase to 3 million per year. With the considerable growth already underway in the Slemani governorate and the number of new industries being established each day, there is no reason to believe that such numbers won’t soon become a reality.