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A touch of Singapore class for Siberian airports? Dramatic modernisation for major hubs

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15 March 2012


Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk are involved in talks on an agreement worth $2 billion which could revolutionise air travel in the region.

Negotiations have opened between a consortium comprising Basic Element (BasEl) holding company, owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Russia's largest bank Sberbank, and Changi Airports Group to buy five regional airports. 

Western Siberia, Krasnoyarsk airport 'Emelyanovo', international terminal 

As well as Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk, the other airports in the potential deal are Perm, Ufa and Kaliningrad, according to Vedomosti newspaper, citing BasEl General Director Andrei Yelinson.

In Siberia, the development of Krasnoyark and Irkutsk could pose a challenge for Novosibirsk which has positioned itself as the main Russian hub between Moscow and the Pacific. It is also the headquarters of S7, one of the country's leading domestic and international airlines.

Novosibirsk aiport 'Tolmachevo', picture: 

Intriguingly, Yelinson suggested that Russia's passenger flow was inefficient, since it was so centred on Moscow. The aim is to strengthen Russia's regional airports.

His company already owns regional airports in Anapa, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar and Sochi. A new deal was recently signed for Kuban.

Traffic at BasEl Aero airports increased by 24% in the past year, to 5.4 million.

The company plans to raise its passenger traffic 11% to 6 million people in 2012.

Eastern Siberia, airport of Irkutsk has had the number of passengers increased to 100,000 people.
Picture: Irkutsk airport press service 

The joint venture with Changi and Sberbank was established last year. It gives Deripaska's company 50% plus one share, Sberbank Investment 20% minus one share and Changi 30%.

When the deal was inked in November, Deripaska dubbed it 'an important strategic step in the development of Basic Element's airport business', and welcomed the partnership with Sberbank and Changi Airports International.

Mr German Gref, President and Board Chairman of Sberbank, spoke of the joint venture acquiring assets 'with strong prospects for growth'.

For many travellers, Singapore Airport is simply the best in the world, offering unrivalled services to passengers and above all taking the strain out of travelling.

Many more modern airports — especially in Asia and the Middle East — have used it as a model, resulting in improved standards in many countries.

Lim Liang Song, CEO of CAI said at the time of the original deal in November 2011: 'We are delighted with the partnership with Basic Element and Sberbank. The Russian market holds enormous potential'.

He stressed: 'Changi Airports International brings extensive experience in managing and consulting for airports overseas. In addition, it hopes to transfer the experience and expertise of Changi Airport Group in managing Changi Airport to this joint venture'.

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