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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German Manager to Head Domodedovo Expansion

East Line Group, which operates Domodedovo Airport, is breaking with a long-standing tradition in the aviation industry and has hired a foreigner to head its new infrastructure development branch.

German citizen Daniel Burkard, British Airways' commercial manager for Eastern Europe, has been appointed as general director of East Line Development, spokeswoman Yulia Mazanova said Monday.

The appointment comes a month after East Line became embroiled in a dispute with the government over the legality of its 75-year lease of the airport.

Burkard said the disagreement did not deter him from taking on his new job.

"I know East Line Group since we made first contact in 2000 and I have always been impressed by the professionalism of people at all levels," he said.

East Line announced in March that it planned to use 16,000 hectares adjacent to the airport to attract office buildings and warehouses, entertainment theme parks, shopping centers, a concert hall and sports facilities.

"Burkard is the first foreign top manager we have invited to work with us, and he is a worthy asset, bringing Western expertise combined with his experience of Russia and the industry," Mazanova said.

During Burkard's six-year tenure in Moscow, British Airways moved its operations to Domodedovo from Sheremetyevo and saw annual passenger numbers surpass a quarter of a million passengers.

East Line, which has run Domodedovo since the late 1990s, has invested over $500 million to make it the most modern airport in the country. Mazanova said that East Line is still in negotiations with the government over a new lease agreement.

While Russian oil companies have long been hiring foreign managers, Burkard's appointment is still an exception rather than the rule, said Boris Rybak, head of Infomost aviation consultancy.

In 2003, Volga-Dnepr hired Canadian Stanley Wraight, former vice president of Atlas Air, to oversee scheduled cargo operations.