Baikal Airport to Become International Transportation Hub for Southeast Siberia

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Mar. 29 – Russia will allocate around US$6.8 million in the federal budget for the continuing reconstruction of the Baikal International Airport OJSC in Ulan-Ude, Buryat Republic this year, the local press office announced on Monday.

Plans include building a second runway, enlarging the first runway, improving passenger facilities, and modernizing of the taxi lane.

The reconstruction of the airport is planned to be finished in 2012, when the last tranche of US$11.3 million will be invested.

The whole reconstruction project, implemented within the framework of a federal program of economic and social development of the Far East and Transbaikalia since 2008, is estimated to cost around US$30 million when completed.

After the reconstruction of the runway, the airport will be able to serve any type of aircraft without restrictions on take-off weight. New lighting equipment will also allow the airport to accept aircraft at night time on request of air companies and to operate 24 hours in the future.

In 2010, the passenger traffic of Baikal Airport OJSC increased by 29 percent in comparison with 2009 and by 18.2 percent in respect of 2008. Nearly 170,000 passengers were carried out through the airport Ulan-Ude for 2010.

The airport’s growth relates to appearance of new air companies: Air Yakutia and Transaero and launching of new international flight on route Ulan-Ude – Ulan-Bator, which is carried out by the private Mongolian Eznis Airways.

The Baikal airport in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia’s capital city, is currently owned by an Austrian Meinl Airports International (MAI), after having been acquired from KrasAir’s shareholders Boris and Alexander Abramovich in August 2007.

The Republic’s authorities are not satisfied with the speed of reconstruction conducted by the Austrian owners. The concept of its development should have been ready by the middle of 2008. But at that time MAI experienced the change of ownership and the plans were not fulfilled.

Russian IFC Metropol might become a new owner of the Baikal airport. Last week the company’s head Mikhail Slipenchuk met with local authorities and expressed company’s strong interest in the project.

Metropol is building a business centre in Ulan Ude, a hotel on the shore of Baikal and plans to buy the Baikal airport reconstruct it and build a VIP terminal there, Slipenchuk said to Reuters.

The initial price for the Baikal Airport is going to start from US$5 million.
Baikal Airport is located 7.5 miles west of Ulan-Ude. It has one terminal built in early 1980s with a capacity of 400 passengers per hour.

Within intergovernmental agreements, Baikal Airport in Ulan-Ude serves aircrafts of the United States and other NATO countries under the Open Skies Treaty, signed in 1992.

The airport is named after Lake Baikal, the oldest (30 million years old) and deepest (5,387 ft) in world, which holds almost a quarter of the world’s total surface fresh water. Ulan-Ude is about 62 miles east of Lake Baikal.

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