Soft landing and benevolent meeting

The country’s major air terminal acquires a makeover worthy of its high status
By Vasily Kharitonov

The country’s major air terminal acquires a makeover worthy of its high status.

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is pleased with the work in the reconstruction of the current terminal of Minsk National Airport. “At first sight, everything looks dazzling, and beautiful. This is good. However, quality and reliability must be also prioritised,” stressed the Head of state, whilst familiarising himself with the reconstruction process of the air terminal and the organisation of passenger handling. During his visit, the President toured the arrival areas, including the border checkpoint, the luggage collection area, the customs control station, the arrival and passenger registration areas, the departure lounge, and the territory around the passenger terminal. The Head of state took the opportunity to examine the operation of both private and state-run duty-free shops, with the comparison not being in favour of the state run enterprise. Mr. Lukashenko also reminded the workers about their social responsibility.


National Airport air terminal

Mr. Lukashenko wondered in detail about working conditions and was assured that the airport will have no problems with welcoming guests to the forthcoming Ice Hockey World Championship that will take place in the Belarusian capital in May, or with welcoming of other passengers.

Minsk National Airport, totalling nearly 80,000 square metres, was commissioned over 30 years ago and is the country’s main airport, handling the vast majority of the country’s passenger and air freight traffic. Earlier this year, the airport completed the reconstruction of the VIP-lounge and the complex dedicated to operations dealing with the Ice Hockey World Championship. The total area of the arrival lounges has been increased, and additional check-in desks for passenger registration have been opened. Moreover, additional workstations for insurance agents have been installed, as well as eleven border control and customs control stations. Communications and equipment to sort luggage has also been installed.

Due to this reconstruction, the airport will be able to service almost 6 million passengers each year, and about 29,000 passengers per day at peak capacity. The airport now has two customs control areas, enabling it to service up to 1,000 passengers from six aircrafts at the same time. One check-in area for passenger registration with 22 workstations is now available as well. Since last February, the Minsk airport office of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry can issue visas to foreigners regardless of whether the departure country has a Belarusian diplomatic mission or not.

Mr. Lukashenko was informed that, over the last few years, the number of passengers and the volume of cargo that the airport services have been rising. In 2013, the airport serviced slightly over 2 million passengers and this figure increased by 10 percent during January-March 2014. Passengers are transported to the Minsk National Airport from Tsentralny Bus Station, with the bus schedules matching with the time of aircraft arrivals. From November 2014, there are plans to transport air passengers to the airport via trains from the Minsk-Passazhirsky station. Three new types of train, have already been purchased by the Belarusian Railway, will be running along this route, with travel time being fewer than 50 minutes.

Flight check-in“I didn’t set out to audit this facility and find any shortcomings. There are other people who will do that. However, time will tell what has been done right and what is lacking,” said the Head of state, summing up the results of his visit to the airport.

At the same time, the President mentioned that people responsible for drawbacks will have to ‘answer all the way, because nothing new has been invented here’. “There are very advanced airports in the world, super-advanced airports, as well as average ones. You just have to pick one variant and work on it,” noted Mr. Lukashenko. “It seems to me you’ve seriously examined all the options, chose the best one and tried to accomplish something with our own abilities and conditions in mind.”

The Belarusian leader warned the general contractor in charge of the reconstruction — Grodnopromstroy JSC — that the rest of the work must be done as impeccably. Meanwhile, the President emphasised that this should be done at a reasonable cost.

“The airport’s modernisation should be completed this year,” noted the Head of state. “The buildings and the territory are to be accomplished by the end of the year.”

“Everything should look ideal because people, who fly to Belarus, will look out of their window to see where they are going to land. Therefore, everything has to be beautiful,” said the President. “I want polish before the hockey championship. We have to bring this airport up to standard.” Mr. Lukashenko added that, for him, it is a matter of honour, “We shouldn’t leave our children with what we inherited when we started ruling the country. The airport was built during Soviet times. Later on, it turned out it was no good at all and we had to struggle to patch it in times when money was in short supply. Later, we followed with massive efforts to fix the buildings,” noted the Head of state. Mr. Lukashenko remarked that, in the next few years, the airport will generate profits and will attract more passengers if the conditions it offers are good. The President stressed it was necessary to think about the future while continuing to develop the airport.


FIGURES:

As a result of reconstruction, the airport will be able to service up to 5.8 million passengers annually and around 29,000 passengers daily during peak times. In 2012, Minsk airport serviced 1.84 million passengers. This figure rose to 2.19 million last year. January-March of this year has shown the continuation of this growth trend, with passenger flow increasing by a further 10 percent.
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