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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frank Tells Airport to Hurry With Terminal

Transportation Minister Sergei Frank unveiled Wednesday the state's plan to modernize Moscow's airport infrastructure — and blasted the heads of Aeroflot and Sheremetyevo for lethargic progress on building a much-needed third terminal at Russia's busiest airport.

Sheremetyevo, the main entry point for foreigners visiting Russia, is already handling 15 percent more traffic than it was designed for and is increasingly plagued by delays, long customs lines and overcrowding. Aeroflot, the airport's main tenant, is spearheading plans to construct the new terminal by 2003, but an investor has not been found and both sides continue to quibble over the level of each other's participation.

Frank, in response to Sheremetyevo general director Sergei Sutulov's claim that investors were lining up to back the terminal's construction, said they should have stopped lining up by now and accomplished something.

"You and [Aeroflot general director] Valery Mikhailovich [Okulov] have to understand that many things have changed in Moscow but people still see what they saw in 1980," Frank told the two. "We can no longer put up with it."

Sheremetyevo is losing airlines to cross-town rival Domodedovo, which recently completed a $90 million facelift of its passenger terminal. Now both airports are lobbying to be the main base in the government's plan to integrate Moscow's four airports into a coordinated hub by 2015.

Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Bykovo airports between them handled 60 percent of Russia's 21 million airline passengers last year, but Sheremetyevo handled half that number and Domodedovo and Vnukovo are underused.

The plan, developed by the Aeroproyekt state design and research institute and the ministries of transportation, property, and economic development and trade, an order last year by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's to balance air traffic flows and improve facilities.

Aeroproyekt head Vadim Ivanov said the plan would cost 40 billion rubles ($1.37 billion), but no source of financing has been clearly identified.

The program includes repaving a runway and constructing a new terminal and control tower at Sheremetyevo. Vnukovo would get a new passenger terminal, hangars and an upgrade to a higher category by international standards. Bykovo is scheduled to get new hangars for Yak-42 aircraft and Domodedovo plans to construct two new runways.

The new facilities are needed to accommodate the annual 31 million passengers expected to flow through Moscow airports by 2015, of which around 19 million are to be serviced by Sheremetyevo, 7 million by Domodedovo and 5 million by Vnukovo, Ivanov said. "Sheremetyevo needed a new terminal yesterday," he added.

Domodedovo head Sergei Rudakov lobbied for his airport to be at the center of the Moscow hub, claiming passenger growth of 60 percent since last year's renovation.

Aeroflot's Okulov said that to be a hub an airport has to have a hub-building airline. "Sheremetyevo is not at a dead-end — 19 million passengers a year is a real number … but there has to be a new terminal," he said.

Frank said a decision on which hub concept is better would be made by the end of the year.