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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Domodedovo Seen as New Hub to U.S.

bloombergNext spring, Continental Airlines is set to become the first carrier to fly to the United States from Domodedovo.
Domodedovo, Moscow's most modern airport, is gearing up to become a major hub for trans-Atlantic flights.

U.S. carrier Continental Airlines will begin daily service to Moscow next spring, and domestic carriers Transaero and Domodedovo Airlines are also looking to start operations to the United States, airport director Sergei Rudakov said.

"It is clear. As of next year, this continent [North America] will be involved in our operations," Rudakov said at a news conference.

Officials from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are scheduled to visit Russia in October to inspect the airport for compliance with its standards.

"I think we are able to meet their requirements," Rudakov said.

Continental will fly from Newark, New Jersey, becoming the third carrier to operate Russia-U.S. flights, following Aeroflot and the United States' Delta Air Lines, as business ties between the two countries grow.

Earlier this year, Delta -- which may file for bankruptcy this week -- introduced a daily flight to Atlanta to supplement its daily service to New York, and the new route has already reached 80 percent occupancy.

The KrasAir-led AirUnion alliance is also considering starting flights from Domodedovo to the United States, Rudakov said, as is Transaero.

Domodedovo Airlines, part of AirUnion, is planning a regular flight to Miami, beginning in spring next year and has already received clearance from both Russian and U.S. civil aviation authorities, said Olga Trapeznikova, spokeswoman for AirUnion.

"We already fly to Canada and are studying a few destinations in the United States, but neither New York nor Washington," said Transaero spokesman Sergei Bykhal, refusing to elaborate.

Privately owned East Line Group, which operates Domodedovo, has invested $500 million into the airport's development over the past few years.

Domodedovo is set to take over Sheremetyevo, the country's No. 1 airport, in passenger numbers and currently serves an estimated 13.6 million travelers, Rudakov said.

Over the past few years, Domodedovo has attracted such major international carriers as Swiss Air and British Airways, and Continental would become its 16th foreign airline.

East Line plans to more than double terminal space to 225,000 square meters in the next year and to invest a further $300 million into construction and upgrades in the next two years, said company chairman Dmitry Kamenshchik.

Also in the pipeline is the development of the area surrounding the airport, including construction of a $30 million, 300-room hotel and a $90 million toll road to the airport.