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Only a decade ago, the infrastructure for servicing Business Aviation flights was considered sparse within the Russian Federation. The metropolitan region was the only exception to provide services anywhere near European-levels - yet even here, Vnukovo-3 Business Aviation terminal had the monopoly, making those services very expensive.

AvBuyer   |   1st January 2014
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Infrastructure for Business Aviation in Russia continues to develop

Only a decade ago, the infrastructure for servicing Business Aviation flights was considered sparse within the Russian Federation. The metropolitan region was the only exception to provide services anywhere near European-levels - yet even here, Vnukovo-3 Business Aviation terminal had the monopoly, making those services very expensive.

The last couple of years have brought about progress across Russia. Moscow’s monopoly have been forced to adapt to a more competitive environment; St. Petersburg now offers two Business Aviation terminals; and Russia’s outlying regions have begun to produce a collection of Business Aviation centers.

Unsurprisingly, Moscow continues to be the prominent region for Business Aviation flight-handling. The Moscow air cluster - which receives most of the Business Aviation flights in Russia – spreads its ground handling and maintenance load across four airports, including Vipport (Vnukovo-3); Avkom-D (Domodedovo); Avia Group (Sheremetyevo); and Gazprom (Ostafievo).

Vnukovo-3 is still considered the biggest player in the Russian market. According Avinode’s service data, Vnukovo-3 remained the most popular Business Aviation terminal for operators flying to Europe and back during 2013. However the next two to three years may see a change, thanks to aggressive infrastructure development among the competition in Moscow, as well as the ‘disloyalty’ policies of Vnukovo-3 (since 2010 the terminal has imposed fines on business jet operators if they place their aircraft for an overnight stay at another airport offering better market price policies).

Sheremetyevo’s Business Aviation center has been the biggest thorn in the flesh of Vnukovo-3’s monopoly with its creation of a terminal that cost approximately 4 billion rubles to build. Avia Group opened the spacious, stylish terminal two years ago. The facility is designed to serve up to 70 passengers per hour, while offering two modern heated hangars and a maintenance base. Line maintenance and scheduled maintenance are carried out in partnership with Airfix on Falcon, Bombardier and Gulfstream jets.

September 2013 saw the solution to another problem that had traditionally been a big stumbling block to Sheremetyevo – the appalling traffic issues preventing quick access to Moscow’s business district. A helipad has been opened allowing airport users to evade the traffic jams on the Sheremetyevo highway. Further boosting the airport’s accessibility, 2014 will see the opening of the first stage of the toll road between Moscow and St. Petersburg which will make the route much faster. Meanwhile, to solve the problem of aircraft storage Avia Group is building a third heated hangar at Sheremetyevo.

Elsewhere, Avkom-D in Domodedovo is the oldest Business Aviation center in Russia. Despite the fact that the terminal for VIP passengers looks less roomy compared to the competitors, Avkom-D offers some services and advantages to compensate - the main one being online slotting, allowing immediate landing or take-off without the delays. (Other Moscow terminals are highly dependent on special flights (Vnukovo-3) or gaps in the packed schedules of the base-carrier (Aeroflot in Sheremetyevo’s case).

During 2013, Avkom-D became the first maintenance center in Russia to receive a Pratt & Whitney Canada certificate to carry out all types of works (including replacing the hot section) on the PT-6 engine which is installed on a third of all civil turboprop aircraft in the world. Moreover, the company increased its capabilities to carry out maintenance on up to three Hawker aircraft simultaneously, and is the only facility in Russia capable of such.

Plans from Domodedovo airport to create the first Aerotropolis in Russia are an important driver of Avkom-D’s recent developments. Domodedovo aims to develop nearby land into a huge business infrastructure, and the building of a true airport city is in full swing. More than 50 developer projects are at various different stages of realization, including logistics centers and hotels. It is expected that the airport city will attract international business, and that Avkom-D will provide the transportation for it.

Finally, Ostafievo remains the least accessible airport in Moscow where information is concerned, possibly because this is the base for Gazpromavia Airlines, the subsidiary of Gazprom. According to a source close to the airport management, Ostafievo is in talks with Dassault to expand its certificate for Falcon jet maintenance. The airport also plans to offer maintenance to Eurocopter models.

St. Petersburg
Away from Moscow, St. Petersburg is warming up in terms of Business Aviation activity. Pulkovo airport has two business terminals (Pulkovo-2 and Pulkovo-3) created by two of Moscow’s competitors – Avia Group and Vnukovo-3 (acting through Jet-Port Spb).

Pulkovo-2 is positioned as a full FBO with its own hangar, aircraft parking, ground-handling services and flight organization providers as well as a planned maintenance base, and will focus on official delegations and governmental flights. Avia Group invested 30 million Euros into the construction of the terminal.

Pulkovo-3, meantime, will provide the same services, but focus on private and corporate flights. The center, opened in April 2013, cost 2.8 million rubles, and has already become one of the biggest Business Aviation centers in Russia (at approximately 100 000 sq. m, it is capable of facilitating up to 16 BBJs). Near-term plans at Pulkovo-3 include the construction of a hangar complex.

Outlying Regions
“Weak" has been a reasonable description of the Business Aviation infrastructure in the outlying regions of the Russian Federation – but the regional centers have seen a noticeable revival lately.

Sochi, the capital of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, got its own Business Aviation terminal in September 2013 which was constructed by Bazel Aero and is not connected to the main terminal that services Commercial Aviation. Divided into two zones with a hall for business charter passengers and another for officials and delegations, the capacity of the terminal is about 85 passengers per hour who can use five conference rooms and a lounge. The terminal is served by a separate access road and exit, and has an apron for up to 12 aircraft.

Situated next to the Olympic area is Stavropol, which has also prepared for the main sporting event of 2014. Avkom-D has built a base for line maintenance of business jets which will open this month.

Elsewhere, Ural-Yekaterinburg recently got its own luxurious VIP terminal after renovating the historical building already at the airport, and 2013 also saw the reopening of the second floor of the VIP terminal at Koltsovo airport following renovation. This even offers a fireplace room and cigar room to warm the bones during the colder winter months!

One of the most economically developed regions of Russia - Kazan - has been developing its maintenance infrastructure for Business Aviation. Kazan airport houses Tulpar Technic, one of the biggest Russian maintenance providers. An authorized line maintenance station has been operational here since April 2013, offering services for Bombardier Challenger 300s and 850s. Tulpar hopes to extend that to Challenger 605s and Global family aircraft soon.

And a measure of Business Aviation revival can be seen in Siberia (Irkutsk and Omsk) where, although no known plans exist for separate terminals for Business Aviation, the airport has its own line maintenance station. Avkom-D is the name behind the base.

Further Development?
Further development of Business Aviation’s infrastructure in Russia is likely to be spurred by Avkom-D which began the construction of ‘accessible modular Business Aviation centers’ that can be ‘rearranged’ depending on the task at hand. The project, launched at the end of 2013, focuses on the regions where BizAv traffic is not so intense, but a separate terminal and maintenance station is still a requirement. The prototype center will be developed at Ramenskoye airfield in the Moscow region where in 2014 the construction of a Business & General Aviation center will begin.

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