One of the most important business events, the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum took place on June 16 – 18. This is an anniversary year – more than 10 thousands of participants from all over the world gathered in Saint Petersburg for the 20th time. The Italian prime minister and the President of Kazakhstan honored the SPIEF with their presence as well.
Russian business aviation professionals also visited the SPIEF. Business Aviation Club managing director Andrei Kalinin and Jet24 managing director Pavel Zakharov shared their impression of the forum and gave their personal opinions on the topics discussed during these three days in St Petersburg.
1. What was your general impression of the forum?
Pavel: My general impression of the forum is more positive that it was last year. The new venue was very good, and the whole organization this year was much better.
Andrei: I have a very positive impression. This year at the SPIEF we had a chance to meet many interesting people – businessmen and public authorities. We were very surprised to find out how many development opportunities are there in Russia, not only for business aviation but also for the transport industry in general.
2. As far as I understand, the main purpose of your visit was to establish a dialogue with local authorities. How successful was your work in this direction?
Pavel: You are right about the main purpose, and I would say we did a great job.
Andrei: Yes, that is true. Frankly speaking, we were quite surprised to see how interested, nice and open to cooperation these people are.
3. Did you notice any interest for the regional development of the industry from local authorities? If so, how intense that interest was?
Andrei: Very intense. Transport – is an engine for any progress: the higher is transport availability the quicker is development of a region. That is why local authorities were glad to talk to us.
Pavel: We had a chance to meet few governors, who seem to be interested in our projects.
4. Do you consider the forum as a suitable place for raising investments?
Pavel: For the regions – of course, for the business – honestly I don’t think so. You know, the SPIEF is a kind of a glass-case used to show the result of negotiations that have started long before the forum and had been being conducted – in some cases – for years.
Andrei: You can find investors at the forum, but more often – interesting projects. That is why I can’t say that the SPIEF is the best place to raise investments.
5. Pavel, you have already visited the SPIEF last year. What would you say comparing the last year forum to the one of this year?
Pavel: As I have already told the SPIEF’2016 is better organized that the previous forum. The new venue is also very good. Last year everyone was feeling the pressure because of the sanctions, but now we are used to them, and the atmosphere was less tensional. The evening program was more diversified as well.
6. Is participating in such events important for the business aviation professionals? I mean really important keeping in mind field-specific exhibitions such as EBACE, JetExpo, etc.?
Andrei: Very important – because it gives a brilliant opportunity for pushing the envelope. At EBACE or JetExpo we interact with other business aviation professionals so frameworks are quite defined. Here, at the SPIEF, they are way wider, and that allows us to see things in a different way, expand our horizons and disclose new perspectives. We can also look at the whole industry from the other point of view. And, of course, our clients. Here they consider business aviation as an industry, not as a service they consume, and they can give their opinion from a business point of view.
Pavel: Every company decides for itself whether it is important or not. But to my mind it is necessary to try to establish dialogue with public authorities and biggest business corporations. The SPIEF gives an opportunity to raise some important for our business questions and problems, to make the authorities to listen to us.
7. Which problems or tendencies discussed at the SPIEF this year you find crucial for business aviation?
Pavel: First, we saw that the governors are very interested in intraregional and medical transportation development, so we can expect growth in these segments. Moreover, few governors were interested in infrastructure development projects in their regions, which also can be commercially relevant.
Andrei: At the SPIEF they discuss all the economic and political development trends for the next 5, 10, 20 years. We can try to understand what direction is taking the elite, which goals these people want to achieve. That helps us to make out business more relevant to the nowadays reality.
8. What impressed you the most at the SPIEF?
Andrei: Garik Sukachev’s performance at the Otkritie FC Bank Party, and Sberbank’s business breakfast where its CEO Herman Gref gave a public talk.
Pavel: Really impressed? Honestly, nothing. But the opening ceremony was very impressive.
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