Dispensers with free drinking water at Kazan Airport removed to accommodate tenants

Dispensers with free drinking water at Kazan Airport removed to accommodate tenants
Photo: Максим Платонов

“The most money is made on water. When you enter the clean area, your water bottle will be taken away. But you will want to drink!” says the owner of a new St. Petersburg restaurant at Kazan Airport, explaining why Russian airports do not put coolers with free drinking water at all, or near a food court. They also disappeared at the Kazan Airport. There are two main versions: one is to support tenants, the second is based on complaints from Muslim pilgrims. Passengers allegedly going on Hajj once protested that instead of halal water they had to drink the Raifa Spring from dispensers. The airport's press service denies the second version and does not comment on the first one. At the same time, its employees assured Realnoe Vremya that this year the Kystyby network, whose point is located in the Kazan airport, will treat passengers with free water and dates during the holy month of Ramadan.

Water at exorbitant prices

Transformation of the airport territory of the Kazan International Airport named after G. Tukay into a gastronomic food court presented a kind of surprise to passengers and guests. It turned out that on the territory of its main terminals, on the way to the departure area of domestic flights, the most ordinary dispensers with drinking water have disappeared. Previously, they could be seen in secluded places at the entrance to the waiting room: they stood either somewhere on the side when moving from one terminal to another, or somewhere in a secluded place of the waiting room.

Overloaded with bags, mothers with children, of course, did find them. Here one could take a sip of water, take a break and run to check-in, and then to the clean area to board the plane. It would seem a trifle, but such a trifle made the waiting time easier. It is clear that dispensers were used by those who could not afford to buy water at exorbitant airport prices. For example, now a 0.5 liter bottle in a democratic Magnet store, which opened at the Kazan Airport, costs 130 rubles. Most likely, it has the lowest price, since it is here that you can see the largest queues and the most people waiting. However, compared to Moscow airports, where the price tag for water jumps to 500 rubles, Kazan looks even more or less decent.

For example, now a 0.5 liter bottle in a democratic Magnet store, which opened at the Kazan Airport, costs 130 rubles. Луиза Игнатьева / realnoevremya.ru

How pilgrims refused to drink from the Raifa Spring

With the onset of the holy month of Ramadan for all Muslims, after which thousands of believers will go on Hajj in June, questions have arisen again: how to meet the needs of pilgrims, why dispensers have suddenly been removed, whether they will appear in the summer season, the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya asked one of the top managers of Kazan Airport during the presentation of the new Korzhov catering point, which opened recently in the terminal building.

“Yes, we had dispensers with water from the Raifa Spring (the brand is owned by the Orthodox monastery of the same name near Kazan — editor's note). But during the Hajj, Muslims complained that they could not drink this water because of their religious beliefs," the airport representative said during the meeting. According to him, one of the pilgrims allegedly wrote a complaint to the management of Kazan Airport, demanding that free halal water appear in the air harbor instead of or together with Raifskaya water. As a result, the administration met their wishes and removed all dispensers with cylinders of the Raifa Spring from the territory of the airport complex.

However, free halal water never appeared either. The representative of Kazan Airport, in a conversation with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya, made it clear that now it is better for believers to buy the water themselves and at their own expense that meets their religious beliefs.

Representative of the Kazan International Airport in the conversation made it clear that now it is better for believers to buy the water that meets their religious beliefs. Луиза Игнатьева / realnoevremya.ru

Later, the airport's press service denied the incident: “The episode you are talking about was in the distant 90s," said Kazan Airport spokesman Adel Gataullin, sending a voice message to the editorial messenger. “In general, I am against you reporting about it," he stressed.

It should be added that the trademark Raifa Spring was registered only in 2005.

“A huge amount of money is made on water”

It should be noted that Kazan International Airport began to turn the terminal territory into a food court of cafes and restaurants later at the capital's Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, and Pulkovo airports. Currently, there are three operators working in front of the entrance to the waiting room. In the most advantageous location, right at the entrance to the terminal, there is the Vkusno I Tochka fast food, a little further — Kystyby with national Tatar cuisine, and a little further away — the Korzhov restaurant with a Russian menu.

The latter is located on the site of a closed hall for foreign guests. This was the only free place, said the owner of the restaurant, Ivan Korneev. There are many retail outlets in the waiting room. According to the airport's top management, the active development of the terminal area began after the airport overcame the mark of 3 million passengers per year. From this moment on, the rental becomes interesting, as the traffic of visitors grows.

By the end of 2023, Kazan airport has overcome the milestone of 5 million passengers, 25 thousand people visit the airport daily. The airport staff made it clear that in these conditions, dispensers do not fit into commercial turnover aimed at making a profit. By the end of 2022, the airport received revenue in the amount of 3.7 billion rubles, and net profit in the amount of 1.3 billion rubles. Rental income increased from 229.8 million rubles to 242 million rubles.

In the most advantageous location, right at the entrance to the terminal, there is the Vkusno I Tochka fast food chain. Максим Платонов / realnoevremya.ru

Tenants also have a negative attitude towards the placement of water dispensers. “We make the most money on water," the founder of the St. Petersburg network said in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya. “Here we will not make money on the water, because we are in the common area [of the airport]. They do not take it away from you, but when you enter the clean zone, everything will be taken away from you, and you will want to drink! Many people buy water and take it with them on the plane. A huge amount of money is made on the water, we do not do charity work," he explained. According to him, water is consecrated for free in churches where it can be collected. “I am an Orthodox and a believer, so I collect water and it is free there. But if we're talking about the airport... What is an airport? This is a showcase. For whom? A showcase for brands. They come to brag: “I'm at the airport," he says. According to him, renting a place here is much more expensive, as it provides high recognition.

let us remind that in 2021, the Volga Transport Prosecutor's Office revealed many violations in the sale and use of water for cooking and drinks at train stations and airports. Including at the Kazan Airport. In particular, there was no control over the conditions of food storage, centralised water supply and sewerage facilities where coffee and takeaway hot dogs are cooked.­ Besides, there is no information about the date of manufacture and the number of the well indicating the deposit, manufacturer data, and so on.

“Our water is not Orthodox”

The copyright holder of the Raifa Spring trademark, Marat Ibatullov, told Realnoe Vremya that he did not know anything about the pilgrims' claims, although they might not get to him, because “we did not supply directly”. “Those suppliers who have the right to place products at the airport continue to work with us, we have many contractors," he said. However, the delivery in bottles goes under other brands — "555" and “Laditsa”.

We have not been trading the Raifa Spring in large bottles for a long time," he noted. “We do not have the concept of Orthodox water. We produce products according to the documentation and declaration. The declaration does not say whether the water is Orthodox or Muslim. Water has never been supplied for free and it will not be possible to do so in the future. Now, in connection with the transition to the Honest Sign control system, a code is pasted on each bottle, according to which products are tracked from the manufacturer to the buyer," he added. At the same time, bottled water under the brand Raifa Spring is on sale at the Kazan Airport, he stressed.

Water is certified according to the halal standard in Russia. “Water is originally halal in itself. Its certification is possible only if additives are used and filters are used," said the representative of the Russian Agency for Halal in Tatarstan. According to him, the territorial administration of Roskachestvo can certify water suppliers for halal, but only if they are contacted. In the meantime, there are no applications from Tatarstan businesses for obtaining halal certificates for drinking water.

Halal water is not yet certified in Russia. Максим Платонов / realnoevremya.ru

However, this year the Kystyby chain will treat with consecrated water and dates, the Kazan airport press service told Realnoe Vremya. Kystyby is a halal network, which means that water and dates are halal. They are ready to provide them to the fasting, the airport's press service assured.

Meanwhile, water dispensers are available at many airports in Arab countries, Turkey, China and Southeast Asian countries. According to Kazan tourists, this is considered the norm in passenger service. They are available at Antalya Turkish Airport, Bali (Indonesia), Beijing, Hong Kong, Phuket, Malaysia airports. “In Turkey, in Alanya, there was a different choice of food — fast food, mostly European and probably Turkish. There are Burger King and Subway chains where food is cheaper. Beijing airport is big, cafes are full, there are dispensers with hot and cold water. In Phuket, the food selection is varied, and there are also water dispensers. In Bali, the food is varied, European, pasta, rolls, Chinese, local, pizza. Ramen at a price of a thousand rubles and a drink separately of about 300 rubles in rubles," said the travelers who returned to Kazan in March. So the lack of available water is more nonsense than the norm. According to experts, the presence of water dispensers at Russian airports is not necessary, but it can become an element of respect for passengers.

Luiza Ignatyeva

Подписывайтесь на телеграм-канал, группу «ВКонтакте» и страницу в «Одноклассниках» «Реального времени». Ежедневные видео на Rutube, «Дзене» и Youtube.