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Floating island

Sakhalin Region intends to modernize the airport network on its own

Floating island

The governor of the Sakhalin region, Alexander Khoroshavin, during his visit to Japan, announced plans of regional authorities to develop the airport network of the island region. To this end, the Sakhalin Region at the end of last year achieved the transfer of all airports to regional ownership. Now the authorities say they are ready to invest their own 8 billion in infrastructure development, and also intend to attract 5 billion of private investment. Experts believe that the project may face a problem in the search for investors.

The governor spoke for a long time about transferring the airports of Sakhalin and the Kuriles to the region, but the corresponding presidential decree was signed only on December 4, 2013. Attention to this area is quite justified: air travel accounts for up to 90% of the total passenger traffic in the Sakhalin Region. Accordingly, the viability of the region depends on the state of this infrastructure. There are seven airports in total on the islands: five on Sakhalin itself (in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Shakhtersk, Nogliki, Zonal and Okha) and two on the Kuril Islands - in Yuzhno-Kurilsk and Kurilsk. All of them, to varying degrees, require reconstruction and ongoing maintenance.

For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that reconstruction work was carried out even while the airports belonged to the federal authorities. For example, within the framework of the federal target program “Socio-economic development of the Kuril Islands”, the South Kuril airport “Mendeleevo” on the island of Kunashir was reconstructed, which from 2006 to 2012 spent 1,15 billion rubles of federal funds. At present, a new airport of the same name is being built at Iturup to replace the out-of-service "Burevestnik"; it is planned to complete it this year. The reconstruction of the main airport of the region, the Yuzhno-Sakhalin "Khomutovo", is underway. It began as part of the federal target program "Development of the transport network of Russia in 2010-2015", but the region will be completed on its own.

Taking local airports on the region's balance sheet, Sakhalin authorities intend to invest in this area.

"In the coming years, the government plans to invest heavily in the development of the island's airport infrastructure," said Alexander Khoroshavin at a meeting with the head of the Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, Harumi Takahashi, held in late January.

Shahabas Davudov, Deputy Minister of Transport and Roads of the Sakhalin Oblast, head of the department of road facilities and air transport, explained that although the department was under a great burden, this was exactly what the region was seeking.

- We know the state of each airport. They need state support, and if earlier we could only give our proposals on the direction in which to move them, now we ourselves have the opportunity to develop the airport network, the deputy minister said.

According to him, the airport of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, which has international status and passes through itself more than 90% of the entire passenger traffic of the Sakhalin region, needs development in the first place. This flow in the region today is more than 900 thousand people and grows at 5-10% annually.

- The airport of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk was originally designed for 200 people per hour. And in the current conditions it is necessary to increase its throughput to 500-600 per hour. In the international terminal, at least an hour 200 should be skipped today, although only 50 is spent, - complained Shahabas Davudov.

The government is ready to take on major infrastructure investments in the modernization of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk airport, but alone it will not fully implement the project. Already, a search is underway for a private investor who will invest about 5 billion rubles.

According to the senior analyst of the independent analytical agency Investkafe Andrew Schenck, it is here that the weak point of the whole project lies: it will be very difficult to find an investor. At the same time, a serious administrative resource is directed to the implementation of this project: a specially created structure for the construction of the new airport will be headed by the former mayor of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Andrei Lobkin, who deliberately refused to do so.

Among the airports of small aircraft, Okha will be the first to fall under the attention of regional authorities, where the runway was damaged as a result of earthquakes. There will also be considered the option of building a new airport in Zonal. In total, the region plans to spend about 13 billion rubles on the development of airport infrastructure in the next five years, with 8 billion rubles from its budget.

Note that 24 in January, Aeroflot transferred to Sakhalin Region 49% of the shares of the recently appeared regional airline Avrora, which is formed on the basis of Sakhalin Airways and Vladivostok-Avia. In the future, these shares will be distributed among all regions of the Far East, which will want to enter the share of the airline, created for the development of local aviation. But so far there are no volunteers, and in addition to the airport infrastructure, the island region receives an impressive fleet. With such baggage, he has all the possibilities to make the Big Earth even more accessible.
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