Posted by John McHaleKIEV, Ukraine 21 June 2010. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) formalized a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine and the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine with the signing of a Memorandum of Intention (MoI) for seven specific areas of cooperation: aviation safety; security; technology; airport infrastructure; air navigation; ground handling, and training. The MoI was signed in Kiev by IATA director general and chief executive officer Giovanni Bisignani, and UkraineTransport Deputy Minister and Chairman of the State Aviation Administration Anatolii Kolisnyk. "An effective air transport sector is a critical element of a nation's competitiveness. IATA's global standards and technical expertise can contribute significantly to the development of safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible aviation in Ukraine. This MoI gives us a strong framework to contribute to building an even more competitive Ukraine air transport sector, with the benefits being spread across the economy," Bisignani says.Specific points addressed in Bisignani's dialogue with Transport Minister Kostiantyn Efymenko and Deputy Minister Kolisnyk included improving safety, simplifying the business, and infrastructure charges.Improving safetyUkraine has made progress to improve safety but many challenges remain, IATA officials say. The country has been a Category 2 state for five years under the US Federal Aviation Administration International Safety Assessment Program. "The safety record has improved but more needs to be done," Bisignani says. "We must accelerate the work to bring safety oversight in line with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is already delivering significant benefits by improving safety. Both Aerosvit and Ukrainian International Airlines are on the IOSA registry. I look forward to exploring further ways to expand the use of all IATA's auditing programs in Ukraine, including making IOSA a national requirement."Simplifying the businessIATA's Simplifying the business program aims to improve service levels and reduce costs. "Ukraine International has led the implementation of new technologies for passenger handling in the country. Aerosvit has stepped up its work and is on track to reach the 100 percent bar-coded boarding pass year-end deadline," Bisignani notes. Infrastructure chargesUkraine's airport and air traffic control rates remain high and are not cost based. "Ukraine's system is one of the most expensive in Europe and remains one of the least productive," Bisignani says. "This undermines the competitiveness of Ukraine. We need immediate reform. It is time to begin a new ere of consultation and transparency in line with ICAO guidelines. The government can no longer treat aviation -- including air traffic management -- as a cash cow."Ukraine's economy is growing again, which will lead to an improved aviation market," he continues. The agreement "opens the door to even broader cooperation between Ukraine and IATA. It is our hope that the government can quickly address the challenges of safety and infrastructure. IATA brings global standards and expertise that will help ensure that aviation in Ukraine continues to develop and improve its competitiveness."