Sheremetyevo: Europe's best airport plans expansion

Moscow's Sheremetyevo tops the list of Europe's best airports in terms of quality of service (QoS) for passengers, according to data published by Airports Council International. Source: ITAR-TASS

Moscow's Sheremetyevo tops the list of Europe's best airports in terms of quality of service (QoS) for passengers, according to data published by Airports Council International. Source: ITAR-TASS

The first building of the North Terminal Complex is set to be operational by 2015.

An Airports Council International study (ACI) has recognized Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport as the best in the European region, in terms of passenger service. Now, to service more passengers — as well as more airline carriers — Sheremetyevo is planning to build a North Terminal at an estimated cost of $200 million.

Moscow's Sheremetyevo tops the list of Europe's best airports in terms of quality of service (QoS) for passengers, according to data published by ACI. The Russian capital's main hub was recognized as the best in the European region, following an ACI study of the world's major airports.

"Sheremetyevo is Russia's number-one airport, and [it] has now topped this independent rating and received international recognition from passengers and professional experts alike," said the airport's general director, Mikhail Vasilenko.

In turn, general director of the European division of ACI, Olivier Yankovek, said that Moscow's airport "harmoniously blends significantly rising passenger traffic with a high level of service, demonstrating the commitment of the management and staff to the company's strategic objectives in the area of passenger QoS."

Sheremetyevo is constantly developing and investing in infrastructure.

Terminal B began operating in 1964 and currently has a throughput capacity of 4 million passengers per year. When Terminal D was commissioned in 2009, the old terminal suffered from underutilization: the proposed solution was to attract low-cost carriers. However, the resident budget-airline Avianova went bankrupt in 2011, and Terminal B has since effectively ceased to operate.

On March 13, Vasilenko reported that the site of the old terminal B, which is 2.5 miles away from the main South Terminal Complex (terminals E, D, F), would be used to build a new airport for 10 million passengers. It will form the backbone of the North Terminal Complex, with a passenger throughput of up to 40 million a year.

The cost of the new project is estimated at $200 million, of which $100-150 million is required for the construction of an underground tunnel to connect the North and South zones of the airport.

It is not yet clear who will finance this project — negotiations with potential investors are ongoing. Most likely, the project will be implemented as a public-private partnership. The government has already allocated $50 million (1.5 billion rubles) to develop the project specifications and other documentation. It is proposed that construction of the terminal and tunnel run parallel to the completion of the third runway, which is slated for 2015.

"First and foremost, the project is intended for our prime carrier, Aeroflot, and is related to its strategic development plans. But, of course, we will be happy to attract other airlines," a Sheremetyevo spokesperson told RBC Daily.

According to Oleg Panteleyev from aviation information agency Aviaport, Sheremetyevo understands that Aeroflot is developing rapidly, and, despite being allotted the whole of the South zone, the carrier may require even more capacity. Thus, the North Terminal project is a win-win situation, argues the expert: The airline will have a presence at both terminal complexes, while the airport will be able to cater to other carriers.

In October 2012, Aeroflot and Sheremetyevo concluded an agreement under which the carrier, its subsidiaries, and partners in the Sky Team alliance were allocated Sheremetyevo's entire South Terminal Complex.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) deemed it to be a violation of antitrust legislation and filed suit against both parties, as a result of which the airport was fined $3,242 (100,000 rubles). On February 12, 2013, senior managers of the FAS and Aeroflot held a working meeting to discuss the details of the agreement between the airline and Sheremetyevo International Airport.

The article is a combined report based on materials from ITAR-TASS and RBC Daily.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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