Unfinished apron holds up the launch of Domodedovo’s new terminal

Domodedovo Delays to the state-sponsored reconstruction of Russia’s second largest airport are depreciating private investments (Jaimrsilva / Wikimedia.org)

Moscow’s Domodedovo (DME), Russia’s second biggest airport, is unable to start using its newly-built Terminal T2, because state aviation body the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), has failed to maintain the strict deadlines for related apron and runway reconstruction projects, according to the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Information regarding budget efficiency spending checks made available from the country’s parliamentary body of financial control, shows that Rosaviatsiya has not properly fulfilled its part of the agreement on airport development and the refurbishment of Domodedovo’s airport structure.

With all aerodromes in Russia belonging to the state, under the agreement on co-investment of airport facilities reconstruction, which was signed in 2012 by Rosaviatsiya and DME Limited, the private owner of the airport, the regulatory authority was obliged to reconstruct the aprons and provide them with lighting and utility systems and services before 2016.

Domodedovo’s Terminal T-2, which covers an area of 239,000 square metres, has been in temporary operation since mid-June 2018, ahead of the start of FIFA World Cup 2018 hosted by Russia.

But Rosaviatsiya has not built the second runway – and that is the reason why the new T-2 area was in operation for only one month, during the FIFA World Cup 2018 – and traffic was temporarily significantly boosted. But its operations were limited because the aprons had not been built either, and aircraft could not approach or dock on to the passenger air bridges.

According to the Accounts Chamber, Rosaviatsiya has so far fulfilled only 41 per cent of its total work commitment, a development that has in turn depreciated the investments of DME Limited in its construction and now amounts to more than 38 billion roubles (US$602.5 million).

Although current plans are for the apron to finally be put into operation in 2019, the construction and installation works government contract has been terminated. With this in mind, there is a strong possibility that “Rosaviatsiya will break the deadline of putting the facility into operation again,” the Accounts Chamber warns.

In addition, Rosaviatsiya has not built a new runway and the existing Runway-2 has been partially decommissioned, its length reduced from 3,800 to 2,370 metres, and radio-communication systems dismantled. According to the Accounts Chamber, this has reduced the airport’s capacity by 35 per cent. The reconstruction of Runway-1 has not been completed in full either.

“Given the limited performance [capability] of the existing Runway-2, in the case of Runway-1 being closed for routine or emergency maintenance, there are operational disruption risks for Domodedovo airport and the Moscow aviation hub as a whole,” concludes the Accounts Chamber.

With this difficult backdrop, Domodedovo airport is continuing to experience a drop in passenger numbers. In the first five months of 2019, and in a growing passenger numbers market, the airport served 10 million people, some 5.4 per cent less than a year earlier. According to the Accounts Chamber, since 2013, the number of airlines served at Domodedovo slumped from 82 to 50 in 2018. Recent casualties include the transference of Vietnam Airlines and Belgium’s Brussels Airlines’ flights to Sheremetyevo this summer.

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