Construction of a new airport in Ucharal City in the southwest of Kazakhstan is slated to begin this year. The airport will be located close to Alaqol Lake, a popular scenic site and health resort. The Almaty region administration has set aside 1 billion tenge (2.8 million dollars) for this project, said governor of the region Amandyk Batalov.
“We are putting a lot of effort into developing the tourism infrastructure of the area. We have elaborated a detailed plan of developing the coastlines of the lakes Alaqol, Balkhash and Kapchagay. As a result of this, the tourist facilities located on Lake Alaqol have been reenergized.
Ucharal City, with population of 17,000 people, is located 40 km west of Alaqol. The health resort on Alaqol used to serve as rehabilitation facility for soviet cosmonauts. The scenic area was not developed as a tourist destination until recently because of its proximity to a frontier zone.
Kazakhstan’s Tourism Association finds the idea of an airport near Ucharal attractive. After episodes of unrest in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan’s neighboring country and home to the popular destination Issyk-Kul Lake, the population of Almaty began to turn its attention toward Alaqol as another vacation alternative. However, due to the poor condition of the roads, the route to Alaqol takes 8 hours from Almaty. Air connection would draw many tourists to the site, a spokesperson for the Association asserted.
Two aerodromes located near the lake remain in operation from soviet times. There is a military aerodrome capable of serving Tu-154 and Il-76 class aircraft just 5 km away from Ucharal. The aerodrome currently serves as base for a helicopter squadron.
There is a smaller aerodrome 13 km away from the city, which used to support both military operations and local airlines, serving An-2s and Mi-8s.
The regional administration did not specify which of the two aerodromes will serve as a base for the new airport. They also have not disclosed details about the future airport’s technical characteristics or capacity.
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