Irkutsk Airport to grow into special economic zone

A special economic zone with an emphasis on logistics and aircraft MRO services will be created on a 100-hectare territory adjacent to Irkutsk Airport.

According to Ruslan Kim, Irkutsk Region’s acting minister of economic development, the project has received preliminary approval from the relevant federal ministry, and the local authorities are already in negations with potential investors.

“Our priority as the administration of Irkutsk Region is to develop an efficient transport system, including regional and inter-regional aviation, as well as a state-of-the-art international hub,” Kim commented, noting that Irkutsk’s close trade links with China “make the region potentially attractive as the base for a large transport and logistics center”.

China’s Alibaba Group has already expressed interest in the project. This public company, a leader of Chinese online trade, dispatches over 400 packages to Russian customers daily. During meetings with Irkutsk Region’s officials, Alibaba representatives said their company was ready to become the future zone’s resident, because “it needs a cargo terminal within Russia”.

As of today, there is only one “port-type” special economic zone in Russia with access to airport infrastructure – the one in Ulyanovsk (Ulyanovsk-Vostochny International Airport). Benefits for its residents include up to 30% tax rebates (including VAT-free imports), space rent fee discounts, and other preferences for MRO providers, OEMs, assemblers, freight forwarders, and warehouse operators.

Region-owned Irkutsk Airport is in the middle of a massive reconstruction project, which will result in updated infrastructure, a renewed passenger terminal and repaired runway. Rosneft and Rostec, bot state-controlled corporations, at one point considered investing in the airport, as did Korean Incheon International Airport, which manages the homonymous airport in Seoul.

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