Krasnoyarsk: the Siberian transport hub linking Europe and Asia

Krasnoyarsk (Krasnoyarsk Airport)

Krasnoyarsk may be located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia – where Russia offers unique opportunities for airlines to exploit new markets – but route network expansion there has been impossible without relevant levels of airport infrastructure development.

That is why, as part of a mutually beneficial partnership programme, and to faithfully execute the instructions of the president of the Russian Federation to expand the network of scheduled inter-regional routes avoiding Moscow, Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot is planning to launch an international transport hub at Krasnoyarsk International Airport (formerly Yemelyanovo).

A collective agreement between the administration of the Krasnoyarsk region, Aeroflot and Krasnoyarsk Airport signed up to such an arrangement on March 29, 2019, which recognises the favourable geographic location of Krasnoyarsk. The deal means that Russia’s largest airline will be able to set up transfer schemes between cities in Ural, Siberia and the south of Russia, as well as to and from China and other Asian destinations. Krasnoyarsk will therefore become Aeroflot’s second base airport for its modern fleet, including its Russian-made Superjet 100s. Today, its sole home is at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

In November 2018 Aeroflot Group’s board of directors approved the airline consortium’s new ‘one hundred million passengers’ strategy up to Aeroflot’s 2023 centenary date. Krasnoyarsk international airport is a big part of that strategy. The hub at Krasnoyarsk, which is a large economic and industrial stronghold in Siberia, is one of four regional transport clusters envisioned by Aeroflot’s strategy. The other three are at Sochi, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.

“Developing a hub at Krasnoyarsk airport will allow us to expand our network of direct scheduled services from the regional capital, thereby promoting the mobility of our population and contributing to improved links between different regions within Russia,” Aeroflot states.

According to estimates, by 2023, the airline will carry some one million passengers annually through the Krasnoyarsk hub. Achieving this traffic target will also enable Krasnoyarsk airport to substantially improve its own performance levels. In 2018 it handled slightly more than 2.5 million passengers. Thus, the plans for increasing the passenger flows through Krasnoyarsk seem impressive.

During the next five years Aeroflot Group also plans to double its total traffic numbers – the national carrier along with its sister airlines Rossiya Airlines, low-cost carrier Pobeda Airlines and far-eastern-based Aurora Airlines – are targeting a combined 100 million passengers from the current 55.7 million.

Having a second international base will help the airline substantially optimise its routes and expand its network.

WHY THE SIBERIAN CAPITAL IS A GOOD PLACE FOR A HUB

According to the strategic social and economic development plans of the Krasnoyarsk region up to 2030, the capital of the region is destined for a massive change and revitalisation. Major events such as the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, the World Student Games and a number of other significant functions do not only feed the region’s dynamic growth but will also spur an increasing flow of tourists. Throughout the past several years the region has been generally demonstrating rigorous economic growth as several large-scale investment projects have been launched, and this definitely attracts new business.

In weighing up the ideal location for creating an international hub, the emphasis is on researching the city’s potential for international transit business. Geographic location is of primary importance here, because Krasnoyarsk International Airport (IATA: KJA) is already one of the most important air transport hubs in Siberia and the Russian far-east, a strategic transit point for air connections between Europe and Asia. The shortest track connecting many cities in these parts of the world lies through Krasnoyarsk or its surroundings. For instance, a tourist from China can travel to Germany or France using connecting flights via Krasnoyarsk, with sizable cost savings and hardly any time lost transit time. Thus, setting up hub operations at Krasnoyarsk will enable Aeroflot to generate additional transit traffic and open additional new markets thereby contributing to achieving the traffic targets set by its new development strategy. However, infrastructure capabilities are a major factor for an airline when choosing a new base, and even more so for a future hub.

“A year and a half ago we witnessed the opening of a very nice airport [terminal], which I would call one of the most elegant in the country,” comments Alexander Uss, governor of the Krasnoyarsk region. “But it must live and grow, which requires a reliable base carrier. And we are therefore thankful to Aeroflot for its decision to create a hub here in the Krasnoyarsk region. Today, the main emphasis is on Siberia around the [mighty] river Yenisey, a huge territory that needs a reliable transportation system. Launching a hub means perspectives for improving access to the Krasnoyarsk region, to other regions around Russia and the wider CIS countries, and the potential for creating jobs and additional services,” the governor adds.

Krasnoyarsk

(Krasnoyarsk airport)

IS THE AIRPORT READY TO BECOME A HUB?

Krasnoyarsk International Airport currently ranks 15th among Russian airports by passenger traffic. Last year marked the first time its numbers exceeded 2.5 million passengers, a notable 12.6 per cent improvement on 2017. Once the new passenger terminal becomes fully operational, that traffic figure is expected to climb by as much as 40 per cent. The World Student Games in March 2019 helped put the airport’s capabilities to the test: during the tournament, the airport handled 747 inbound and 751 outbound flights, 600 regional and more than 100 international. During the several days of the event more than 130,000 passengers passed through the airport carrying some 1,300 tonnes of baggage, most of it outsized. In this period, the former domestic terminal served as VIP station. “Now that this [new terminal] project is nearing completion, before the end of this year, the [old] terminal will be transformed into a hotel,” the airport’s spokesperson revealed.

The existing terminal’s capacity is 1,300 passengers per hour, and the airport is currently capable of handling up to five million passengers annually. The runway is certified for ICAO Cat II landings and the airport also holds EASA Part 145 approval.

Although the creation of the hub will require additional effort and financial injections, the airport and its partners are already gearing up for it. Alexander Uss has announced that the required investment is assessed at 35 billion roubles. He pointed out that hub operations will help boost the airport’s traffic and will allow Aeroflot to launch at least eight daily east-bound flights.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS FOR AEROFLOT?

Considering Aeroflot’s specific interest is for an international airport, it is important to recognise that the transit tracks that the airline is looking at lie significantly farther to the north-east than Yekaterinburg, which was another potential hub option. So it is clear why Aeroflot decided in favour of Krasnoyarsk as its focal point for future development. Having a Siberian hub will help Aeroflot compete more effectively with those international rival airlines specialising in transit traffic, such as Finnair, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines. Aeroflot will benefit from a shorter – and thus less expensive – leg from Asian destinations to its hub. But to benefit from these advantages Aeroflot will have to launch direct connections with cities in Europe and generate sufficient traffic to justify the business case.

THE AIRLINE’S FLEET AND CALCULATIONS

According to Vitaly Saveliev, the head of Aeroflot, in the initial phase, Krasnoyarsk will be the base airport for the airline’s mid-haul Boeing 737s and Russian-built Superjet 100 regional jets. Andrey Metzler, general director of Krasnoyarsk airport, points out that the airport’s existing infrastructure will not require additional investments to handle Aeroflot’s new aircraft and increased passenger flow. The existing maintenance hangars and facilities are currently working at only 30-50 per cent of their potential capacity, so there’s no need to boost those facilities, which in itself is an additional benefit both for the airline and for its passengers because Aeroflot will be able to reduce its maintenance costs for several types of aircraft. In addition, smaller aircraft are easier to accommodate, thus increasing frequencies, offering passengers more flight choices and more convenient connection times. So the 100-seat SSJ100s will be helpful to Aeroflot by increasing revenues through the optimisation of loads.

Krasnoyarsk

(Aeroflot)

Although the Asian marketplace look fairly stable for Russian airlines, it is important to be aware that the situation in Europe is very dynamic and much less predictable. So, if Aeroflot plans on operating other, larger types of aircraft, it has to introduce them gradually along with the development of the hub operations, because operating long-haul aircraft on new routes may present higher risks and greater costs. It is no secret that new routes always pose risks, because it takes time to reach break-even point and make flights profitable. When considering connections with Europe it is logical to start with lower expenses. Besides, Krasnoyarsk is located some 5,000 to 6,000 km from key destinations in Europe and south-east Asia, within the range of a Boeing 737. Thus, long-and medium-haul aircraft may eventually become a necessity, when the network has matured and is further expanded.

WHAT DOES KRASNOYARSK AIRPORT GAIN FROM HUB STATUS?

In the first quarter of 2019 it was Aeroflot that was the airport’s key operator in the domestic segment, whilst Russian charter carriers NordWind Airlines and Pegas Fly generated the bulk of international leisure traffic. Thus, increasing Aeroflot’s presence at the airport will help to even out its international traffic spread across the year, including the low winter season, and drive up its domestic passenger numbers.

Currently the most popular domestic destinations from Krasnoyarsk are Moscow, Novosibirsk, Norilsk, Igarka, St Petersburg, Irkutsk and Sochi. Among attractive international destinations, the highest demand is for Nha Trang (Vietnam), Antalya (Turkey), Sanya (China) and Phuket (Thailand), and although the numbers of flights to destinations in China are increasing, this connection remains underserved and holds great potential.

However, Aeroflot has announced it will initially launch domestic flights from Krasnoyarsk to such destinations as Sochi, Irkutsk, Norilsk, Omsk and Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Tomsk. Increasing passenger numbers at this first stage is likely to result from flight optimisation and more frequencies.

“Development of the hub model at Krasnoyarsk in partnership with Russia’s largest airline will open a new page in the airport’s history. The airport will receive a boost to its further development, and those who live and travel to Krasnoyarsk will have new travel and business network development opportunities,” says Andrey Metzler.

Krasnoyarsk

(Krasnoyarsk Airport)

WIN-WIN

The creation of an air transport hub at Krasnoyarsk will not only help the airline to execute presidential orders and offer more flights avoiding Moscow, but will help the national carrier in its competition with international transit carriers, generating more traffic for the airport and fostering tourist flows into the region. Airlines and passengers will both win from this development: the network will expand, airfares will go down, and new connections will be available.

Krasnoyarsk

KRASNOYARSK AIRPORT GENERAL INFORMATION:

Location: Russia, the Krasnoyarsk Region, 27 km away from Krasnoyarsk;
IATA CODE: KJA;
Opening hours (UTC): 24/7.
Runway properties:
Artificial runway: 29L/11R;
Aerodrome class: A;
Artificial runway dimensions: 3,700×60 m;
Regulated takeoff weight: no restrictions;
Surface: concrete reinforced with asphalt concrete;
Lighting equipment: commissioned in 2009; ICAO category 2 compliant;
Runway capacity – 12 movements per hour;
Aircraft parking facilities: 63.

Accommodated aircraft types:
Antonov An-2, An-12, An-24, An-26, An-28, An-32, An-72, An-74, An-124 (124-100), An-140, An-148 and modifications;
Ilyushin IL-18, IL-62, IL-76,IL-86, IL-96, IL-114 and modifications;
Tupolev Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, Tu-214 and modifications;
Yakovlev Yak-40, Yak-42 and modification;
Аirbus A310, A319, A320, A321, A330 and modifications;
Boeing 737, B747, B747-8F, B757, B767,B777, B777F and modifications;
McDonnell Douglas МD-11, MD-83 and modifications;
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 and modifications;
British Aerospace ВАе-125-700, BAe-125-800, BAe-146 and modifications;
Superjet 100 (RRJ-95В) and modifications;
ATR-42/72 and modifications;
Embraer ERJ-135, ERJ-140, ERJ-145, ERJ-170, ERJ-175, ERJ-190, ERJ-195 and modifications;
Dassault Falcon 900, Falcon 7X and modifications;
Fokker-100 and modifications;
Bombardier BD Global Express and modifications;
Bombardier Challenger 600 and modifications;
Bombardier CRJ-100, CRJ-200 and modifications;
Bombardier  DHC-6,-8 Q400 and modifications;
Pilatus PC-12 and modifications;
Beech-350, Beech-400 and modifications;
Gulfstream IV, Gulfstream V and modifications;
Hawker-850, Hawker-900 and modifications;
Cessna-208B Grand Caravan, Cessna-172, Cessna-525А, Cessna-680, Cessna-1560XL and modifications;
Let L-410 and modification;
Bombardier Challenger 300, Challenger 850, Challenger 870 and modifications;
Helicopters of all types.

PASSENGER TERMINALS AND THROUGHPUT:

Air terminal complex (Terminals 1 & 2) with a capacity of 1,300 passengers per hour, the total area of more than 58,000 sq. m.

Infrastructure:

Hangar facilities for aircraft maintenance and cleaning, including a heated hangar with the area of 5,100 sq. m, allowing handling aircraft up to MD-11 size, and an un-heated hangar with the area of 5,700 sq. m;
Cargo terminal of 23,000 sq. m, including storage facilities and offices;

KRASNOYARSK AIRPORT HISTORY / MILESTONES

Krasnoyarsk Airport (Yemelyanovo) was commissioned in October, 1980.
1993
Yemelyanovo was qualified as an international airport.
2005
Terminal 2 for transfer passengers and international flight service was opened.
2006
The runway paving had been replaced with asphalt concrete with reinforced polymer grids.
2008
The opening of the Arrivals Terminal, with the acceptance rate of 500 passengers per hour (Terminal 3).
The airport lighting was reconstructed and the high-intensity lighting system centerline and touchdown lights were installed.
2012
Part-145 certification was completed, enabling the airport to perform line maintenance of MD-11F, A319, A320, A321 aircraft.
2014
The airport’s quality management system was certified under ISO 9001:2008.
2015
Construction of the new passenger terminal began.
2016
Krasnoyarsk Airport get federal status.
2017
A new passenger terminal was opened.

Krasnoyarsk

(Krasnoyarsk Airport)

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