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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

  Aeroflot Terminal to Open in Winter

AeroflotAeroflot will move all of its flights to Sheremetyevo's glistening new Terminal 3 before switching to its winter schedule this year, CEO Vitaly Savelyev told reporters Friday after showing off the facility to visiting airline executives.

The long-awaited hub will serve as the SkyTeam alliance's base in Russia and is intended to rescue Sheremetyevo from its reputation as the capital's least modern airport.

Workers loaded dummy baggage onto conveyors at the check-in Friday, while others mopped floors or installed lights in the round-domed arrival hall. The terminal has been operating on a trial basis since April, Savelyev said. "Our goal is to set the winter schedule from the new terminal."

Aeroflot Airlines agreed to build a new hub as a condition for its membership in SkyTeam. Construction began in 2005, and the opening date has been pushed back several times.

"Architects attempted to create the image of a swan, which would be the symbol of Russia, which is protecting passengers with its wings," Savelyev said of the terminal's structure.

The hub's primary customers will be Aeroflot and its SkyTeam partners. Some executives, including Korean Air chief Cho Yangho and Air France head Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, toured the terminal Friday. "It looks impressive," said Leo van Wijk, chairman of SkyTeam's governing board.

The alliance wants to develop its presence in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, he said, and a modern hub would make Moscow more attractive as a layover stop.

To expand its coverage, the alliance is also "in discussion" now with Rossiya Airlines, Van Wijk said. The sides are "not in a state of negotiations," however, which will only happen in consultation with Aeroflot, he said.

"It's impossible for one airline to cover all of Russia," van Wijk said.

State-controlled Rossiya is based in St. Petersburg and flies to 92 destinations in Russia and the CIS. It served 3.5 million passengers in 2008.

Aeroflot will relocate all of its flights from nearby Sheremetyevo 2 and the more distant Sheremetyevo 1, which handles its domestic flights. After the move, Aeroflot will be able to cut the transfer time from domestic to international flights to 60 minutes. International transfers will take 40 minutes.

"We know about the problems in Heathrow. They... won't be repeated," Savelyev said, referring to the hundreds of cancellations and thousands of lost bags following the opening of Terminal 5 at London's Heathrow Airport.

Sheremetyevo 3 was developed by Terminal, a company owned by Aeroflot, VTB and VEB. Savelyev declined to provide investment figures. "It's developed on credit from Vneshekonombank and VTB," he said. "We don't have any problems with the banks."

The hub will be able to handle 12 million passengers per year, or 270 flights per day, 70 percent of which will be international. The 172,000-square-meter terminal is "practically connected" with the railway line from Moscow.


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At July 1, 2009 at 5:45 AM, Blogger Ahmed Sultan, ITC said…

    The Russian Federation is eagerly waiting for the opening of Sheremetievo Terminal 3 for the sake of facelifting the international image of the airport.
    According to Russia’s Transport Clearing House, Sheremetievo Airport handled 15,066,354 passengers during 2008. Considering the fact that the new terminal will be able to handle 12 million passengers a year, are we expecting congested operation during the early years of airport life?


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