Begishevo flies Pobeda, while Kazan bets of Turkey’s resorts

The Transkama airport announced construction of an international terminal, while the Interstate Aviation Committee is thinking of a third one

Begishevo flies Pobeda, while Kazan bets of Turkey’s resorts Photo: Maksim Platonov

Tatarstan airports started to demonstrate stable signs of recovery of the passenger traffic they lost when flights to Turkey and Egypt closed and the economic crisis came. With the opening of foreign resorts and expansion of the geography of subsidised domestic flights, three airports services over 3,2 million passengers, of which 2,6 million belonged to the Kazan airport. Meanwhile, Begishevo airport suddenly reached a phenomenal rise of two times – almost 600,000 passengers. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

Who is faster?

International airports of Tatarstan are suddenly gaining passenger traffic. Kazan international airport increased its passenger traffic by 37% last year and went through the crucial bar of 2,6 million people, said Head of the administration of the Ministry of Transport and Roads of Tatarstan Aleksey Sidorov. Now the airlines fly from the Interstate Aviation Committee in 72 destinations, of which 37 are international. New flights to top destinations will open – to Turkey's resorts, it will transport people to oil and gas deposits of Western Siberia (Noyabrsk, Salekhard, Novy Urengoy) and CIS countries (Minsk, Tbilisi) – told Head of the Department on Non-Aviation Activity of Kazan international airport Mikhail Kolobov.

But Begishevo international airport, which is second in Tatarstan in terms of importance, went ahead of it – plus 54% to almost 600,000 people. But traffic at Bugulma airport rose by symbolic 4,7%. It seems the airport had to transport remaining 100,000 people. ''A considerable growth of the passenger traffic at the airports was achieved mainly by expanding the network of routes and higher frequency of flights to the existing destinations,'' Aleksey Sidorov explained.

But even all three Tatarstan airports can't so far go further than the biggest regional airport of Koltsovo, which crossed a bar of 5 million passengers a year last year. ''The further from Moscow you're, the higher passenger traffic is,'' Head of the Department on Non-Aviation Activity of Kazan international airport Mikhail Kolobov explained the recipe for success of the rivals at Tatar-inform's press conference.

The licence obtained to operate international flights in September 2017 was the major event for the only Tatarstan airlines UVT Avia. Photo: Maksim Platonov

UVT Aero got foreign airlines

He called the licence obtained to operate international flights in September 2017 was the major event for the only Tatarstan airlines UVT Aero. A month later, UVT Aero operated its first semi-international flight from Kazan to Kaliningrad as test, then it transported a hockey team to Kazakhstan,'' Deputy Director General of UVT Aero AO from Tatarstan Stanislav Kozlenko seemed to be trying to joke.

Speaking seriously, the full programme of international flights will launch this year. According to Stanislav Kozlenko, regular flights to Milan, Paris, Tel Aviv are included, they will be operated from the Kazan airport. The sale of tickets to Munich, Baku, Erevan has been available since June. For international flights, UVT Aero is going to lease new aircraft. ''Three types of planes are considered now: narrow-bodied middle range Embraer-190, Russian SSJ-100 and Bombardier CRJ-900,'' he named the preliminary shortlist for selection and specified the choice would be made in the short run. In Russia, UVT Aero will operate flights to 60 destinations, including 20 from Kazan. But the airline didn't specify how many people it had transported.

Begishevo flies Pobeda

Meanwhile, the Tatarstan airports aren't tired of fighting for passengers, they invite more low-cost airlines. For instance, Begishevo managed to double its traffic by increasing the frequency of flights of low-cost Pobeda airline. According to Commercial Director Feliks Kozlov, 161,000 passengers were transported to Moscow for the price comparable with a railway ticket. Another 51,500 passengers were added to the passenger flow when Turkey's resorts opened, Feliks Kozlov named the second component. And 9,000 citizens preferred to fly on holiday to Crimea and Sochi that Russian Nordavia and Izhevskavia fly to. To retain this Moscow low-cost breadwinner, the airport managed to reduce the period of maintenance of arriving planes to 25 minutes. European airports spend almost the same amount of time to service western carriers. ''Imagine that we manage to welcome 190 passengers, unload luggage and board another 190 passengers for 25 minutes,'' the commercial director boasted. He also reminded that the previous year Pobeda interrupted flights to Moscow precisely for this reason and is back now.

To attract passengers from neighbouring cities – Yelabuga, Nizhnekamsk, Izhevsk – officials of Begishevo are going to launch high-speed shuttles from Begishevo and vice versa.

Why doesn't Pobeda fly to Moscow from Kazan? Mikhail Korobov explains it by the proximity and availability of Russian Railways, which eradicates its economic feasibility. But Pobeda registered in the Interstate Aviation Committee's schedule, but only to Sochi.

Why doesn't Pobeda fly to Moscow from Kazan? Mikhail Korobov explains it by the proximity and availability of Russian Railways. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Service airbase to settle down in Begishevo

In addition, Begishevo's management managed to locate servicing centres to maintain new Russian aircraft that Russian airlines will switch to. According to Feliks Kozlov, Tulpar Technic decided to open a linear station for the maintenance of short-range SSJ-100 planes and one of first Russia authorised service centres of long-range MS-21.

Almost all participants of the aircraft business of the republic are involved in the regional programme of subsidised regional flights. UVT-Avia that isn't going to leave the programme because it operates international flights is the only performer of the republic. Last year, it flew to 17 subsidised routes from Kazan, Bugulma and Perm and got a subsidy to compensate a shortfall in income of 800 million rubles. Another two carriers Izhavia and Orenburzhie fly from Begishevo and the Interstate Aviation Committee by providing Kazan airports with traffic. Aleksey Sidorov said that the Federal Air Transport Agency approved again to subsidise UVT Aero in 17 destinations from Kazan, Perm, Saint Petersburg in 2018. All cities of Volga Federal Okrug are within the scope of its flights.

However, the flight Kazan – Kaliningrad was excluded from the subsidised network,'' Stanislav Kozlenko said. ''But we've left it at the moment.''

Begishevo started to build the second terminal, while Kazan is thinking of a third one

10 billion rubles have been invested in the infrastructure of the two key airports of the republic in the last several years. But a forecasted growth of passenger flow makes to start their upgrade again, noted a representative of the Tatarstan Ministry of Transport and Roads. According to him, the Kazan airport is approaching the peak of its capacity. This is why its owner Svyazinvestneftekhim public holding is thinking of building the third terminal. But the final draft hasn't been made yet, Head of the Department on Non-Aviation Activity of Kazan international airport Mikhail Kolobov explained. He says they are looking for the optimal option out of three in terms of its capacity and the project's investment volume. Svyazinvestneftekhim is expected to make a choice during the year.

But KAMAZ, which owns Begishevo, has already agreed on the construction of the second terminal, said Commercial Director of Begishevo international airport Feliks Kozlov. We're talking about the terminal to receive international flights with a total capacity of 8,500 square metres. According to him, the project is to be approved by the Main Department of State Expertise, while its construction will begin this year already. The volume of investments wasn't named. But it's known it will the airport's own money, not KAMAZ's money.

The more airlines from the republic appear, the better it is for its attractiveness, Aleksey Sidorov concluded. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Begishevo international terminal will welcome the first passengers in 2020. He forecasts that Begishevo will increase its capacity twice after opening, to 1 million people. Begishevo aims to reach a stable passenger traffic of 1 million people in 5 years, Kozlov claimed.

The more airlines from the republic appear, the better it is for its attractiveness. This is why we try to develop both the Kazan and Transkama airport, Aleksey Sidorov concluded.

By Luiza Ignatyeva