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Isla Nena Air in Puerto Rico

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Basic facts and profile information about Isla Nena Air in Puerto Rico: airline name, other names, IATA code, ICAO code, Callsign, country, etc.

Airline Name: Isla Nena Air
IATA Code:
ICAO Code:
Airline Callsign:
Country: Puerto Rico — Country or territory where this city is located.

PR — ISO2 code of the country.

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Isla Nena Scuba

Discover Snorkeling / Scuba

 $160 |

1/2 day

No prior experience in the ocean?
This class will introduce you to snorkeling and give you a taste of diving!

Discover Scuba

$140 | 3 hours / $180 |

1/2 day

Curious about scuba, but  never tried it?
This is the option for you!

Discover Scuba Additional Boat Dive

$210 |

1/2 day

For those who just completed a Discover Scuba with us and are hungry for more.

Open Water Certification

$500 |

4 days excluding theory ($180) | additional day $150

When you finish this course you are certified to go it alone with your buddy.
So we make sure we train you right!

Scuba Diver

$350 |

2 days excluding theory ($180)

Want to get certified, but don’t have enough time here to finish a full Open Water course?
Get closer to your goal by becoming a PADI Scuba Diver!


$350 | 2 days

Got your pool work done but don’t want to do your first open water dives in cold water?
Come finish your certification with us!

Ask us about private instruction!

ReActivate/Full Scuba Review

 $120* | 1/2 day excluding theory

Out of the water for 5 years or more?
This condensed repeat of your Open Water class will reteach you!
If you are PADI certified, the ReActivate program comes with a re-issue of your cert card.


 $100* | 1/2 day

Feeling rusty? This shorter version of a ReActivate class will get you back in shape fast!!

Advanced Open Water

 $450 * | 2-3 days excluding theory

Ready for the next step?
Become a buoyancy master, never get lost again, explore new depths & more!

Rescue Diver

 $450* | 3 days excluding theory

Learn self-rescue techniques and how to help others.
It’s your stepping stone towards  becoming a professional!


variable programs priced accordingly

Become a pro and have a lot of fun in the process!
For detailed info, please contact us at 787-718-7605 / info [AT]

Ask us about private instruction!

*Prices exclude equipment, materials and eLearning fees


We decide on appropriate dive sites daily according to weather and water conditions and divers’ experience. You can choose between shore and boat, number of tanks and time of day. You can ask us about any sites you’d like to go to in particular, but there is no guarantee we will be able to take you there. Nevertheless there is a list below the prices.


Shore dives require a minimum of 2 people; boat dives a minimum of 3.

If the minimum is not met you can pay a surcharge of $50 per person to go on a boat with just two. Off the shore pay for two to go  by yourself.

We also offer private tours (ask for a quote).

  • 2 tank shore dive starting in the morning $80
  • 2 tank boat dive starting in the morning $150, extra tank PM $75
  • 1 tank shore dive starting in the afternoon $60
  • 1 tank boat dive starting in the afternoon $100
  • 1 tank shore dive after dark $80
  • 1 tank shore dive after dark with fluo lights $120
  • 1 tank shore dive starting before sunrise $120

additional tank off the shore $40


  • full set without computer* single day $40
  • full set of equipment including computer* single day $50
  • BC or reg $15 per day
  • BC & reg $30 per day
  • BC, reg & wetsuit $35 per day
  • Fins, mask and wetsuit single day $20 |2 days or more  $15 per day
  • Fins & mask single day $15 |2 days or more  $10 per day
  • dive watch* $5 per day
  • dive computer* $15 per day
  • set of dive lights for night dives  $10 per day
  • camera including 8GB micro SD card $40 per day

*A dive watch or computer is required for boat dives

Mosquito Pier

This unique site offers an unrivaled diversity of marine life.
At just 40 feet maximum depth, dive times here often exceed one hour.

Fluo Diving!

We do this either at Mosquito Pier or on the South side at a shallow reef right off the shore.
This is a very special dive for experienced divers.

Patti’s Reef

One of our favorites. Less affected by Maria than many other reefs,
this site has retained its wonderful variety of corals.


This pretty little site is perfect for beginners or as a third dive.
Shallow depths and lots of colorful fish!


This close-to shore site in just 40 feet of water makes a perfect
training dive, but it has enough life to offer to appeal to experts as well.


A pretty site with a nice variety of features.
A maximum depth of 60 feet just a short ride from the dock


The Interwebs will have you believe this is a great dive you should not miss while in Vieques.
Bollocks! It’s boring and we do not go there. Basta.

Twilight/Treasure Island

After following a short wall in 70 feet of depth,
we come to a  pretty patch reef leading to a large circular reef.


Close to Anchor, but only up to 45 feet deep, this pair of
large sand bowls often features a number of eels.


One of very few sites with varying depths and orientations,
we almost always see something special here.

Diane’s Reef

A little farther away than most other sites,
this reef with depths of up to 90 feet is simply stunning.


A beautiful spread out patch reef with a large variety of coral heads,
it carries its name for a reason.


With depths ranging from 70 to 30 feet,
this beautiful site offers pelagic visitors as well as colorful residents.

Tindo’s Drift

Running East to West this short wall
offers a mellow dive featuring life on top and along the side of the reef.

Coral Canyon

Very large spur and groove reef with depths ranging from 60 to 100ft.
Beautiful hard corals.

The Western Lands

Far to the West it gets surreal.
A dreamlike landscape inspired us to name this site after a Burroughs novel.


At this deep pinnacle we look for large pelagic animals.
Sometimes we get lucky.


One of our newest sites.
It sports plate corals in a variety of colors.


Our snorkeling tours are customized to your group’s comfort level and sense of adventure.
Tell us all about it, and we will suggest a tour that’s right for you!



Chilling at the beach all day? Go back to Esperanza in style with a rum punch in your hand and 250HP under your butt! Or come on a custom excursion visiting some of our nicest beaches!



We train divers. We do not sell certifications. During your dive training with us you will spend more time in the water, repeat skills more often and receive more personal attention in smaller groups over more days than is typical. We strictly adhere to PADI standards, even extending time spent with students where we feel it necessary. This means that you will conclude your training as a confident, capable diver–able to actually use your certification for the independent diving it entitles you to.

We’ve got you covered! When you attend one of our PADI Open Water classes, as a U.S. resident (excluding Puerto Rico & USVI) you are covered by DAN at no additional cost for the duration of your class. If you are joining us on an advanced class or scuba tour and do not have dive insurance yet, you can join DAN and purchase insurance through them for just $65 a year. We highly recommend this as most medical insurances do not cover dive accidents.

We have the best equipment. One of our owners is a certified technician for Oceanic, Atomic, Hollis, Mares and SpareAir scuba equipment. That means we don’t only purchase the best, most dependable gear; we also know how to keep it that way  so you will be safe and comfortable on every dive with us.

We care for our environment. We think of ourselves–and all divers–as ambassadors for the oceans and thereby the planet.

We pay close attention to the ecological viability of all products we use and the practices we adhere to. Good environmental practice is also an integral part of our dive education and community outreach programs.

We are socially responsible. We feel it is important to give back to the community that has welcomed us as operators and keeps welcoming tourists. We therefore use as many local resources as possible, from the sourcing of dive snacks to the hiring of support staff. So the dollars you spend with us will benefit the people of the island you will love (If you don’t already).

We provide an authentic experience. Our boat captains are locals who know these waters like the backs of their hands. They bring us to dive sites that no other outfit has access to. And they know when to go where to make the most of daily conditions from decades of experience on Vieques. Oh, and by the way, our divemasters carry a Nautilus GPS submersible marine VHF, so in the unlikely event that the boat lost track of the divers, they can call and transmit their position! (Not that we have ever had to make use of this, but it’s nice to know, no?)

Isla Nena Scuba is a small owner-operated business. We focus on customer service and serious dive education. We pride ourselves on our social and environmental practices and superior services.

Arnaud Erhart has been diving since he was 11 years old. He started out in the Mediterranean and along the coast of Brittany in his native France.

But over the years, while pursuing a career  of sommelier, restaurant manager and  owner of acclaimed Brooklyn restaurant 360, whenever he found time to travel, he explored many more dive destinations worldwide. Some of his travel favorites are Sodwana Bay in South Africa, Musandam in Oman and the Surin Islands in Thailand. On his wish list for future dive travel he includes Antarctica and Isla de Guadalupe in Mexico.

After 20 years in the restaurant business, he decided to change careers and started pursuing PADI professional certifications and has recently arrived at Staff Instructor. He has worked in and managed several dive businesses and has relished this experience. Now he is excited  to  follow his own vision for scuba diving from the island he has come to love as his home . He owns Isla Nena Scuba together with his wife, Tania.

Tania Puell has dabbled in many careers. She has worked as a blacksmith, a math teacher, a designer, and a Web developer.

She started diving when Arnaud suggested to try it on their honeymoon in Akumal. Her dive instructor Alexandra said she was a fish, and she loved it immediately. She has since been on dives all over the world. Her favorite dive destination so far is Guanaja–one of Honduras’ Bay Islands. She loves doing productive things under water, such as introducing people to scuba, cleaning aquarium windows or collecting trash. Most recently she is excited about learning how to cultivate and repopulate corals.

She is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer, but is thinking about becoming a course director. She also creates all marketing materials for Isla Nena Scuba and keeps this Web site spiffy and up to date.

Alexis Ventura has been our boat captain from the very beginning. His day job is lobster fisherman and as such he also supports fishermen on scuba, so he has lots of experience following those bubbles! He is also great fun to be around and uncommonly helpful on and off the boat. He does not eat fruit or drink water, but I swear one day I will wear him down.

Laura Barber Stygles was bitten by the scuba bug just after moving to Vieques. She was derailed from her trajectory towards Divemaster for a bit by hurricane Maria, but now she’s fully certified as such, enjoys leading dives and loves doing Refreshers. I can see a successful instructor development course in her future. We are so lucky to have her!

We rent and sell a variety of high quality gear of the following brands:

Vieques is an island off the east coast of  Puerto Rico, which as a U.S. Commonwealth, American citizens can visit without a passport. Its original inhabitants, the Taïno people named it Bieke, which means Little Piece of Land. In Puerto Rican Spanish that sounds the same as Vieques, so this spelling or variations between the two are also in use. Bieke’s nickname is Isla Nena (Little Girl Island), hence our name!

©Thomas Martin

We enjoy a warm, tropical to sub-tropical climate with temperatures varying little throughout the year, from 82 °F (28 °C) in January to 87 °F (31 °C) in July. The months of September–November bring the most rain. Prevailing winds are easterlies. Vieques is at risk from hurricanes from June to November. Although major devastation is rare, hurricane Maria in 2017 hit Vieques and all of Puerto Rico very hard. We will still be recovering for years to come.

The island is about 3.5 miles wide and 17 miles long. There aren’t any permanent rivers or streams. Its highest elevation, Monte Pirata, part of a central east-west ridge, is just 13 feet short of officially being a mountain. Its surrounding lush green hills are dotted with houses only in the center of the island. There are two major towns: Isabel Segunda on the North coast, and Esperanza in the South.

The entire eastern and western ends of Vieques are unpopulated. Most of the land is a natural reserve administered by the Federal Agency of Fish and Wildlife, to which it was turned over by the Navy after they left in 2003. They had the island as a military station and bombing range for half a century. The cleanup effort that started after their departure continues to this day and will likely never be complete. Ironically, Vieques’ battered history has left it largely undeveloped–giving it a unique place in the Caribbean with healthy mangrove swamps, beautiful lagoons and miles and miles of untouched beaches for the enjoyment of tourists and locals alike.

It is often said that the Vieques south shore is in the Caribbean sea, whereas its north shore lies in the Atlantic. That’s not technically correct, since the Caribbean as a suboceanic basin is really part of the Western Atlantic and includes all of Vieques and indeed all of Puerto Rico. However, conditions do differ greatly from the North to the South shore, the Southern side typically being calmer and warmer except during hurricane season. Since we dive on both sides, we can always pick the sunny side!

If you are coming from the U.S. or Europe, San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin international airport will be your first destination. Many airlines fly there from major cities in the continental U.S. and some in Europe (Iberia from Madrid, Condor from Frankfurt).From San Juan you can fly CAPE AIR  or Vieques Air Link to get to Vieques. Both accept online reservations. Vieques Airlink also flies from San Juan’s smaller airport, Isla Grande, which is usually cheaper; the 15 minute cab ride from one airport to the other will be about $15.

It is possible to go over land by rental car. AVIS, Enterprise and THRIFTY have offices close to the ferry in Ceiba, where you will have to drop off the car, because the agencies do not permit taking the car to Vieques.

From Ceiba you can fly to Vieques for $40 with VAL. Or take the ferry for $2/person. Check THE SCHEDULE to plan your trip in advance.

Once in Vieques, your hotel or guesthouse will often provide transportation from the airport or ferry dock. Or you can take a publico (a communal taxi). Most people on the island speak at least some English, so you won’t have any problems getting to where you’re going.

We recommend you rent a car once you are on the island, because many of our most beautiful beaches and interesting vistas are hard to reach without one.

Unremovable Communication Difficulties / Ideas and People / Nezavisimaya Gazeta

The meeting of two worlds: the prayer of Russian Muslims against the backdrop of an Orthodox church.
Reuters photo

We are slowly getting used to the ambiguous relations between Europe, including Russia, America, China, and the Muslim world. Judging by the book “Les Think Tanks. Brains of the war of ideas”, this war is increasingly unfolding around the problems of the Muslim world. All the research centers mentioned in the detailed work are immersed primarily in the Muslim theme. Private — historical, cultural, political — circumstances, which are associated with difficulties in communication, are described more than once. The sad thing is that, even knowing the causes of these difficulties, we are still not able to offer real ways to quickly resolve this problem.

The Muslim world is the world of Islam

We build relationships, deal with secular Muslim countries. But we always remember that the Muslim world tends to be called Islamic, because Islam is what consolidates it, shapes the worldview of its inhabitants. Religious movements operating within the Muslim world are, directly or indirectly, political movements.

On the one hand, each individual Muslim country rationally builds its relations with «gentiles.» On the other hand, these relations are bound to be overshadowed by the entire Islamic world, which is openly or implicitly recognized as a factor in world politics. What is Islamic Solidarity? Of course, this is a myth. But in Christianity it is generally equal to zero. And, as you know, everything is known in comparison.

Everyone is talking about the complexities of relations with the Muslim world – the Pope of Rome, Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and former NATO Secretary General John Kalfen… From quotes on the topic of the «Islamic threat» one can compose a weighty anthology.

But the president of the Russian Center for Strategic Studies, Shamil Sultanov, reflects: “In the Muslim ummah, the problem of the meaning of life has never turned into a personal and social tragedy. Even in the event of social degradation and social disintegration of one or another Muslim society, Islam ensured the reproduction of a system of value criteria that did not allow a destructive personality crisis. Not every political scientist, and not every sociologist will read this maxim to the end. And when you read it, you might even chuckle. It is understandable: there is no dear political pragmatics here. But is it the only thing that determines geopolitical existence?

Until September 11, 2001, most analysts «calculated» Islam by country, by specific organizations, although some experts called for taking into account the religious factor as a whole. Huntington’s clash of civilizations was seen as an elegant and overly emotional game of the mind. The announcement (then many times disavowed) by Bush Jr. of a crusade was an instinctive recognition that one had to deal with Islam, at least with one of its incarnations — Islamism, the most striking and capable trend. A full-fledged model of attitude towards Islam was not developed, but there was that general negative and suspicious attitude towards Islam, which cast a shadow even on the allies of the West — the Egyptians, Saudis, Kuwaitis. ..

After Barack Obama came to power, naivete towards Islam remains. But now it is, so to speak, positive. Already named «Huseinovich», the new head of the White House sincerely wants to pick up the golden key to Muslim hearts. Although not all of his advisers believe in such a possibility.

We have already paid attention to the fact that an American of Iranian origin, Vali Nasr, who believes in the coming progress of the Muslim world, has become an adviser (senior) to the US Special Representative in Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke. Considering that Republicans on Islamic Affairs consulted with the unloved in the Muslim world, Bernard Lewis, this is a remarkable step. True, in the eyes of Muslims, Vali Nasr is more of a Western reformer (although traits of traditionalism are easily detected in his position). Hence their wariness towards him.

In the Muslim world, including its radical part, Obama’s actions are being monitored. The Taliban, of course, condemned the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to him, but it is important that they paid attention to this event.

What can Muslims expect from Obama? First, recognition (albeit indirectly) of guilt for the deterioration of relations with Islam. Secondly, concrete steps to resolve conflicts. They almost got a new emphasis on the «Muslim direction» of American politics. But the resolution of conflicts is still far away.

Protests against Muslim immigrants are not uncommon on the streets of European cities.
Reuters photo

Community of private conflicts

It turns out strange: conflicts arise at different times, spontaneously, they have different motivations. Initially, there is no “Islamic question” as such in conflicts. The Middle East crisis was not associated with Islam. Pakistan did not manufacture the bomb according to «Islamic patterns». The problem of the Iranian nuclear program also cannot be classified as Islamic. Chechen separatism began as secular, nationalistic. Saddam’s Iraq was far from religion.

But in view of the development of conflicts and crises in the Islamic space, they are mixed up, turning into a common spreading «blot». They become interdependent. It is becoming more and more difficult to resolve the crisis in a single Muslim country or around it: the Muslim world is a system of communicating vessels filled with a homogeneous religious substance.

The most mobile, contaminant component of this substance is radicalism, which easily penetrates social and political pores, giving the conflict a religious sound.

The Afghan war, created by Soviet political craftsmen, was originally a private, subjective factor, which, however, fit into the general course of history, prompted the process of radicalization of Islam. «Afghans» are present in Iraq, the Middle East, Chechnya, Central Asia, India, Pakistan. They operate in Afghanistan itself. Everyone went through Afghanistan. Of course, Islamic radicalism would have taken place without the Kremlin’s foolishness. Just as 1917 would have happened without the imperialist war. Both events became catalysts for already ongoing processes.

The problem of Afghanistan has long turned into an AfPak problem and eventually turned out to be global. Circles from AfPak run through the Central Asian political backwater, Iran is connected to the dynamics of the Middle East crisis. And the religious and political violence in the North Caucasus would have looked somewhat different without Islamist influence from abroad.

Al-Qaeda ideologist Ayman Zawahiri interpreted the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as a rehearsal, as an analogue of the Muslim war with Sasanian Iran before they attacked Byzantium. In other words, he saw this as a kind of prologue to Islamic expansion.

The problem of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is moving into the Islamic plane. Muslims already have one bomb. But this is a purely Pakistani bomb, which has a specific potential «addressee». The second bomb, if it appears in the Muslim world (it does not even matter in which state), will most likely be called Islamic. The third can be purchased by anyone, including dubious international centers. It is important to prevent the second, if only because it is not followed by a third, completely irresponsible.

Why does Iran need a bomb: for prestige? To save the regime? Of course. And yet, there is a desire to restore justice in the Middle East in the name of Islam, which can be seen in Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric. It is not particularly believed that the latter can happen, but this option cannot be ruled out either.

Even if we imagine the impossible — a quick and consistent resolution of all crises unfolding in the Muslim space, this will not mean a final solution to the problem of relations between the Muslim world and its neighbors on the planet. Perhaps more emphasis should be placed not on resolving insoluble crises, but on managing them in some way. And then, for example, AfPak will move from the «plane of war» to the search for consensus, unstable, but nonetheless conducive to maintaining stability. Another option is a military one, a kind of «scorched earth tactics», a war to destroy the enemy. You will have to pay dearly for this. In addition, the enemy is indestructible in principle. No even the most totalitarian dictator in the Muslim world is able to get rid of the presence of Islamism. (Saddam Hussein is our «bright past».)

Afghanistan. This NATO soldier would probably like to know what the locals think of him.
Reuters photo

Islam and Islamism

“Whatever its expression – moderate or radical, revolutionary, peaceful, violent, even terrorist, Islamism confirms its authenticity, its altruism, its concern only for the interests of the people in which it originated” – such is the panegyric of Islamism from an authoritative French expert Gilles Kepel. Something in this statement is doubtful, but its pathos is accurate.

Radicals offer their alternative in the vision of the world, their arrangement of society and its relations with the state, social justice coming from Islam. This model may seem utopian. But it has already taken root in the Muslim space, it should be respected, and at least not considered deviant. Moreover, the call to follow Islamic norms not only in personal, but also in public and political life sounds everywhere, including from Muslims loyal to a secular state. Often, calls to return to Sharia come from both the radical and the moderate part of Muslims, which, we note, is the case in the North Caucasus.

All this should be treated in a balanced manner, respecting the right of people to express their religious identity, including in politics. Understanding this should be mutual: do not be offended, do not experience an inferiority complex when you do not like something in the position of another. Everyone has the right to self-expression. At the same time, one should not impose excessive piety on oneself on another, and even more so — require from him the most punctual observance of only his own norms. Recently, there have been several misunderstandings about this — from a caricature scandal to attacks by Muslims on the Pope. It’s good that Air France serves halal food. But let the «People of the Book» pour whiskey in Air Saudi. Prophet Muhammad, a brilliant politician, probably would have agreed with this. A true dialogue of civilizations begins with trifles.

Terrorism: not so simple

The term «Islamic terrorism» is incorrect and provocative. Alas, they got used to it, which in itself is bad, but which turned out to be inevitable, because most of the famous terrorist attacks were committed by Muslims (no matter how their reasonable co-religionists “disown” them).

Terrorism did not arise on its own, especially since it is not derived from religion. In a sense, he is an extrapolation to the present day of the liberation movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, in whose ideology there was jihad. The former jihad was against the colonialists, the current one is against their heirs. However, having won the war for liberation, most of the Muslim countries were not economically and politically on a par with the former metropolises. The United States is seen as a quasi-colonizer, which uses force against regimes they dislike.

Thus, terrorism is an extreme form of Muslim reaction to the success and aggressiveness of the West, combined with its mentoring. At the same time, it is a consequence of its own failures, the inability of the overwhelming majority of Muslim regimes cooperating with Europeans and Americans to solve internal problems. Analyst Georgy Mirsky calls Islamism «the third stage of the decolonization rocket». Terrorism is the “warhead of Islamism”.

How to be and what to do?

The first answer that comes to mind is as simple as two and two. Help build a civil society, help eliminate unemployment, carry out reforms… and so on. Then, they say, everything will work itself out. As for the radicals, they will perish as the well-being of the Muslim people grows. How long it will take is unclear. It is also unclear how the radicals will “dissolve”.

The second answer, which is not voiced, but sometimes whispered, is to abandon everything: Afghanistan to the Taliban, Iran to Ahmadinejad (having previously smashed all his «nuclear centrifuge pots»), Russia to leave the Caucasus, do not give a damn about Sudan, Somalia, leaving the fate of the local pirates. And at the same time throw out Muslim migrants from Europe and Russia. It is clear that isolationism in the era of globalization looks like idiocy, although at the emotional level it may look attractive.

The third answer is unoriginal and boring: acting on the Muslim religious and political field, proceed from today’s, not tomorrow’s virtual reality. When interacting with secular parties, states, regimes, remember their sensitivity to religious identity, incorporated both in the public consciousness and in the consciousness of the elites. In addition, the elites cannot ignore religion even because of the presence of the Islamist opposition inside their countries, which, at every opportunity, accuses them of forgetting religion.

Now political energy is spent on settling conflicts in AfPak, in Iraq, with Iran. There is also Sudan, the North Caucasus, Xinjiang… There is, finally, the unresolved Middle East. Each case has its own options for resolving the crisis. However, they are united by the presence and growing activity of religious radicals. Perhaps it makes sense to think about creating some (conditionally) common «sliding model» for communicating with them.

The tank is broken, the tail is on fire. What prevents Tajik Air from spreading its wings

Tajik Air aircraft. Photo by Richard Vandervord from

The Tajik government has set up a Supervisory Board to improve the financial position of the national air carrier, Tajik Air. The resolution on the creation of the council was signed by the head of state Emomali Rahmon on June 10 this year, but information about this appeared in the media at the end of July. The council, which will essentially take over decision-making in the airline, is headed by Prime Minister Kokhir Rasulzoda, and it included the first deputy prime minister, deputy prime minister (curator of the industry), first deputy head of the presidential executive office, ministers of finance, transport, justice, chairman of the State Committee for Investments and State Property Management, Director of the Civil Aviation Agency, General Directors of Tajik Air, Dushanbe International Airport, Tajik Air Navigation and other persons.

In August, the first meeting of the council is expected, at which the State Support Program for the airline for 2018-2023 will be considered. According to Ikrom Subkhonzoda, Director of the Civil Aviation Agency under the Government of Tajikistan, who is one of the members of the Supervisory Board of Tajik Air, the program has already been agreed with all relevant ministries and departments and has been proposed for government approval. “The program contains all directions for the development of the state-owned airline, in particular, it involves improving the Tajik Air fleet by leasing medium-range aircraft,” Subkhonzoda told the Asia Plus agency.

Protracted crisis

Tajik Air has been on the verge of bankruptcy for many years. The last time the high probability of bankruptcy of the company was indicated in the Ministry of Finance of Tajikistan in 2016. In its report on the economic performance of large Tajik state-owned companies, the Ministry of Finance concluded that, due to the available data on debt, expenses and income, the airline was in a very unfavorable financial situation. Misuse of funds and poor management were cited as reasons for this state of affairs.

According to the report of the Ministry of Finance, according to the results of the first quarter of 2016, accounts receivable of Tajik Air amounted to 70.1 million somoni (about $9 million), which is 50% more than in the same period of the previous year. Accounts payable decreased by almost 40% and amounted to 255.6 million somoni ($32.5 million). The total revenue of the airline amounted to 79.6 million somoni ($10.1 million), a decrease of 16% compared to the same period in 2015. At the same time, expenses exceeded revenues by 18.5 million somoni ($2.35 million), while losses amounted to 18.4 million somoni ($2.3 million).

The average salary in Tajik Air in the first quarter of 2016 amounted to 6.4 thousand somoni ($814) — 38% more than a year earlier. At the same time, passenger turnover decreased by 5.5%, and the volume of cargo transportation — by 15.3%. Experts estimated the level of decrease in the company’s income at 1118% (!).

A poor relative

Tajik Air appeared on the basis of the state airline Tojikiston, which was previously part of the aviation system of the Soviet Union. The company inherited from the collapsed country 16 Tu-154B1 / B2, Tu-154M, Tu-134A3, Yak-40, An-28, An-26, An-24 aircraft and large debts. Nevertheless, the company managed in the first three years to open flights to Turkey, Germany, Thailand, India, China, Korea, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries. The success of the airline’s activities at that time is associated with the personal merits of its first general director Mirzo Mastongulov, who involved only professionals in his work and never let random people in. About his departure in 2000, Mastongulov said: «I had to leave, non-professionals came.»

After Mastongulov’s departure, the situation in the airline began to go haywire. With an old fleet of aircraft, Tajik Air was often the subject of criticism in the media. Even foreign diplomats complained about the company’s services and equipment, who in 2005 wrote an open letter to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon about this.

Since 2008, the situation of Tajik Air has deteriorated further. Firstly, the first private company Somon Air appeared in Tajikistan, equipped with new Western-made airliners — Boeings. Officially, the name of the owner of the company was not mentioned anywhere, but everyone in the republic knows that he is the president’s brother-in-law and the head of the Orienbank commercial bank Hasan Sadullozoda. This gave the company great privileges, even in the acquisition of priority air routes.

In addition, in 2008, Tajik Air was restructured, before which the company was a single entity with the entire infrastructure — airports, refueling company, catering, air navigation and air ticket sales enterprise. In government decree No. 707, the need for restructuring was due to the fact that it would create equal conditions for all participants in the aviation market. But for the Tajik Air company, this process turned out to be difficult and involved it in large debts.

According to the restructuring plan, the company was divided into eight independent economic entities. The airports of Dushanbe, Khujand, Kulyab and Kurgan-Tyube became independent, which received the status of international airports (Khorog airport and other airports with the status of republican ones were transferred to the balance of local administrations), JSC «Fueling Company», State Unitary Enterprise «Tajikaeronavigatsia» «and State Unitary Enterprise «Flight Catering». The airline itself became an open joint stock company.

In the two years since the restructuring, Tajik Air has accumulated large debts to many of these entities. So, by January 2011, Tajik Air’s debts to Dushanbe airport amounted to 27 million somoni ($6.1 million), to Khujand airport — 14 million somoni ($3.2 million), to SUE «Tajikaeronavigatsiya» — 8 million somoni ($1 .8 million).

Dushanbe Airport. Photo from

The company’s management then stated that these debts arose as a result of inflated tariffs for airport and air navigation services. “I would not call these funds debts, they are not debts, because I can say with confidence that tariffs, especially for airport services, are too high even compared to Russian airports. We have many unprofitable flights, one of which is Dushanbe — Khorog, which we operate, working in the interests of the state, but at a loss. At the same time, we pay all airport and navigation fees. Why can we work in the interests of the state, while the rest can’t?” Valery Sharipov, Deputy General Director of Tajik Air, said then.

He gave comparative figures. So, according to Sharipov, the delivery of passengers by bus to the plane in the city of Surgut is $29, and in Dushanbe — $50, the lead of the plane — $11, and in Dushanbe it costs $70, takeoff and landing per ton of takeoff weight — $11, and at the Dushanbe airport — $13. Delivery of the crew to the plane in Surgut is $9, in Samara — $17, in Novosibirsk — $28, and in Dushanbe — $50.

“The delivery of two crew commanders to an aircraft located at a distance of 800 meters on the so-called “tangem” at the Dushanbe airport costs $50. You can imagine how many times the tariffs are inflated, and this is precisely the reason for the debts that have arisen. And one more important point — the airport issues us an invoice for servicing the AN-28 for one flight, where it is written that the work of a special vehicle for processing bathrooms costs $ 137.6. But in fact, there is no bathroom on the AN-28, and there is nothing to process there, however, we are billed for this service. Therefore, I do not accept the word «debts» in this case,» Sharipov said.

The Fuel and Refueling Company (TZK) created a lot of problems for the company, and these problems are growing to this day. Being a monopolist in the supply of jet fuel, TZK sets an inflated price for jet fuel for airlines — $ 1,200 per ton, while in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where market conditions are the same as in Tajikistan, the cost of a ton of jet fuel is $ 800.

Unfavorable conditions force Tajik Air planes to land for refueling in neighboring countries, and this already creates inconvenience for passengers, as the flight time is delayed by at least two hours. Despite the constant complaints of passengers and criticism in the media, the airline cannot yet abandon this mode of operation.

All these years Tajik Air had to get out on its own, without government support. What can I say, even if the head of state flies on private company aircraft. Experts believe that the company might have managed to get out of the crisis if a conscientious manager had been at the helm.

Everyone for himself

Experts in the aviation industry believe that the only leader who made a significant contribution to the rise of the airline was its first director Mirzo Mastongulov. The activities of Khokimsho Tilloev, who headed the company in 2006-2008, are also considered somewhat successful. He became the first «outside» manager. Under him, the Tajik Air fleet was updated and Boeing airliners were leased. He was able to pay off the company’s debts and turn a profit.

In an interview with Asia Plus in January 2010, Tilloev said that the company had passed to him with debts of 4 million somoni ($910,000). “In 2006, paying off debts, we also received a profit of 20.6 million. In 2007, 46.6 million somoni and 71.2 million somoni in 2008,” he said.

Debts to Tilloev were transferred from Mirzo Anvarov, who became the second specialist in the aviation industry in the position of general director of Tajik Air. Anvarov’s appointment came amid disputes over who should run the company—a general manager or an aviation specialist. Appointed a specialist. But, according to experts, the choice fell on the wrong one. For the head of such a company, Mirzo Anvarov turned out to be too soft a person, unlike his enterprising deputies. It was with their direct participation, as industry experts say, that the company got huge debts.

One of Anvarov’s deputies was Rustam Khalikov, who was dismissed at the same time as Anvarov, but in 2014 became the third aviator at the head of Tajik Air. Prior to his appointment as head of Tajik Air, he headed Dushanbe International Airport (MAD) for five years. On his initiative, MAD and Tajik Air merged, but after his dismissal, these structures were again separated. According to some reports, the reason was an article in the local newspaper Nigoh, in which he was accused of abusing his position for personal interests.

Tajik Air flight attendants. Photo by the company’s press service

The rest of the company’s leaders were considered good managers, but Tajik Air did not bring any benefit. On the contrary, they were even blamed for the problems of the company. For example, last year flight attendants of Tajik Air issued an open letter addressed to the president, in which they complained about the current head of the company Khairullo Rakhimov. The reason for the complaint was the intention of the management to cut the salary of flight attendants by almost 70%. He justified his decision by the difficult financial problems of the company.

Flight attendants noted that the crisis in the company arose under the mismanagement of Rakhimov. As an example, they pointed to the fact of purchasing a Boeing 767-300, which has a 30-year flight experience and many problems, due to which it went to the repair parking lot a month later, where it stood for three months (we are talking about the largest long-haul and wide-body liner of the company, which was put into operation in December 2016). The company spent $3 million to repair the liner and all this time paid for the services of the airport for the downtime of the aircraft, and even leasing.

Despite the PR campaign that accompanied the purchase of the liner, even then aviation experts questioned the technical integrity of the vessel and its safety. In a letter to the president, the flight attendants also accused their leader of patronizing individuals in the administration, paying them large salaries, creating numerous unnecessary states, and paying dubious business trips for people close to him. “Each of us risks our lives at work. When we leave home for a flight, we don’t know if we’ll be back. Decent pay for this work allows us to be confident in the well-being of our families. We put our lives at risk, but at the same time they want to deprive us of a well-deserved income, and what are these people risking by receiving such large salaries? — noted in the letter.

By the way, currently Tajik Air’s fleet consists of 34 aircraft, of which three Boeings and 3-4 Soviet-made aircraft (An-24, An-28, Yak-40) are operated. The rest of the aircraft are in storage.

Old, inactive aircraft of the state company Tajik Air. Photo from

Distrust of the manager?

Aviation experts interviewed by Ferghana suggest that the government’s current decision to create a Supervisory Board means that it has lost confidence in the management of Tajik Air, and the matter may not even be in one particular person, although each leader there were mistakes, but in the management method itself. According to one of our interlocutors, the obligations placed before the Supervisory Board are not new. And before that, there were programs, similar tasks were set for each newly appointed general director of Tajik Air. But there was no improvement in the company’s affairs, and financial problems essentially remained unresolved. Service was deteriorating, even though the airline’s prices were always high and the planes flew full. No reforms and reorganizations have so far changed the situation — on the contrary, the company’s management each time called the problems a consequence of these reforms.

The government’s decision may mean that it has stopped relying on just one person to run the company. “Now Tajik Air has as many as a dozen general directors. After all, despite the fact that the new body is called the Supervisory Board, its functions go far beyond the usual monitoring and control. Now any decision in the company will be made by this council, and not by one person,” an aviation industry specialist told Fergana on condition of anonymity.

In his opinion, in fact, this means that the position of general director in the company has been abolished, although formally it will exist. The expert positively assesses this decision, because, according to him, now that the position of CEO becomes less popular, there is a chance that industry specialists will come to this position who will really work, “and not create the appearance of work and proceed primarily from their own interests.»

“Now the general director of Tajik Air will not be his own boss, and every decision, every step must be coordinated with the members of the board, so it is unlikely that ambitious managers will now rush to this position. And this means that now the road is open to specialists, perhaps even from the company itself, who know all the nuances of the airline’s work in particular and the aviation sector in general, and, accordingly, will be able to make practical proposals for the development of the company. Therefore, I believe that the new mechanism for managing the company should give good results. Too bad it didn’t happen sooner, but better late than never. And if the government really set out to raise Tajik Air, then the next step of the council should be an independent international audit of the company,” the expert believes.

Economic expert Abdumannon Sheraliev has a different point of view, and his forecasts are not so optimistic. “The creation of the Supervisory Board is not a bad idea, if not for one “but”. This initiative is like putting money into a piggy bank with a big hole in the bottom. At the expense of the national airline, those who the council is unable to prevent earn money. He will be able to stop all sorts of petty thieves, of which there are many in the airline, but he will not close the main hole in any way. Establishing a council and renewing the fleet may improve the airline’s position, but any improvement and injection of money will mostly work for the sharks that feed on the airline. Tajik Air has been robbed for 20 years, several people have become millionaires at its expense, but so far not a single one has been punished. Why? Because they did it with the consent of those whom the council was unable to influence,” Sheraliev believes.

He also doubts that the board will be able to achieve any privileges for the company and increase its competitiveness, since the influence of competitors — the owners of Somon Air — is greater than that of the board.

Raise or privatize

The forecasts of both experts may well come true — it all depends on what the government’s motives are. In the first case, if the government decides to get down to business seriously, then it will be able to pull Tajik Air out of the crisis and make it a successful company. Perhaps the next step will be to inject additional finance into the company and sell part of its shares. Although, according to some sources, 49% of the shares have already passed to other persons. But who they are and under what conditions they acquired the shares is unknown, just as the mechanism for selling these shares in the absence of a securities market is unknown.

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