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Vnukovo International Airport, formally Vnukovo Andrei Tupolev International Airport (named after Andrei Tupolev) (Russian: Внуково, IPA: [ˈvnukəvə]) (IATA: VKO, ICAO: UUWW), is a dual-runway international airport located in Vnukovo District, 28 kilometres (17 mi) southwest of the centre of Moscow, Russia. It is one of the four major airports that serve Moscow, along with Moscow Domodedovo Airport, Sheremetyevo International Airport, and Zhukovsky International Airport. In 2019, the airport handled 24.01 million passengers, representing an increase of 12% compared to the previous year. It is the third-busiest airport in the former USSR.

History

US president Ronald Reagan at Vnukovo in 1988
Old terminal (pictured in 2000).

Vnukovo is Moscow's oldest operating airport. It was opened and used for military operations during the Second World War, but became a civilian facility after the war. Its construction was approved by the Soviet government in 1937, because the older Khodynka Aerodrome (located much closer to the city centre, but closed by the 1980s) was becoming overloaded. Vnukovo was opened on 1 July 1941. During the Great Patriotic War, it was used as a military airbase; passenger services started after the war.

On 15 September 1956, the Tupolev Tu-104 jetliner made its first passenger flight from Moscow Vnukovo to Irkutsk via Omsk.

On 4 November 1957, a plane carrying Romanian Workers' Party officials, including the most prominent politicians of Communist Romania (Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Chivu Stoica, Alexandru Moghioroș, Ştefan Voitec, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Leonte Răutu, and Grigore Preoteasa), was involved in an accident at Vnukovo Airport. Preoteasa, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, was killed, as was the aircraft's crew. Several others were seriously injured.

The first passenger flights of the IL-18 (Moscow to Alma-Ata on 20 April 1956) and Tu-114 (Moscow to Khabarovsk on 24 April 1961) were also made from Vnukovo Airport. In 1980, Vnukovo was expanded because of the 22nd Summer Olympic Games. In 1993, Vnukovo Airport became a joint-stock company.

Apron view
Departure gate area

A massive reconstruction and strategic development programme commenced at Vnukovo International in late 2003, following the transfer by the Federal Government of the controlling stake in the airport to the Government of Moscow.

As part of the Airport Strategic Development Plan, the following projects were completed between 2003 and 2005:

  • April 2004: New Terminal B was opened. The terminal currently handles international passengers. But in the future, it will be converted to handle domestic flights or to fulfill any other dedicated functions to be determined at a later date. The terminal's total floor space offering stands at 80,000 square meters (861,000 ft2), allowing for an annual passenger throughput capacity of four million.
  • August 2005: Vnukovo's Aeroexpress rail link to Kiyevsky Rail Terminal was opened.
  • December 2010: New Terminal A was opened.
  • Summer 2016: all flights served by Terminal B transferred into Terminal A, Terminal B is closed.

Vnukovo is Europe's busiest airport for international flights by larger private planes.[3]

Location and capacity

Terminal A

Of the three Moscow airports, Vnukovo is the highest (204 metres (669 ft) above sea level). Hence, in case of fog, it has frequently served as an alternative airport.[4]

The airfield has two intersecting runways of 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) and 3,060 metres (10,040 ft) in length. Each runway is 60 metres (200 ft) wide, with 10 metres (33 ft) wide safety shoulders on each side. The joint runway capacity is 60 aircraft movements per hour. Runway 24 is mostly used for departures, while Runway 01 for landings.

The airport has two passenger terminals (Terminal A and Terminal B), one general aviation terminal (for charter and business flights), one cargo terminal, and 60 aircraft stands.

The airport can handle a maximum of 10,100 passengers per hour,[5] and 4,000 people are employed there. In 2013, the airport handled almost 11.18 million passengers, representing a 15.3% increase compared to 2012.[6] In February 2014 the airport handled 722,500 passengers, an increase of 23.8% compared to February 2013, partly attributed to expansion by Utair.[7]

Vnukovo Airport is equipped with a VIP hall, which is used by many political leaders and important people visiting Russia. The Russian President also uses Vnukovo's VIP facility.

The Tupolev airliner rework facility is located at the edge of the airport, and major overhaul and modification programmes are carried out in several large aircraft hangars.

On the northern perimeter of the airport, the government VIP transport wing is located, operating head-of-state flights for high-ranking government officials. Thus, the airport is occasionally closed for regular flights when VIP flights arrive or depart.

Further expansion

The prospective development programme is intended to last until the year 2015,[needs update] and is aimed at transforming Vnukovo International into a highly competitive air transportation hub of international significance – one that would offer a comprehensive range of quality services to both its passengers and its tenant carriers.

A new international passenger Terminal A will have a total floor space of 250,000 square metres (2,700,000 sq ft) and passenger throughput capacity of 7,800 passengers per hour, making a total capacity of 18–20 million passengers annually.[8] This will open up a plethora of opportunities for the tenant airlines to expand and radically improve the quality of their customer service at the airport, and ensure the introduction of international-quality service and comfort overall. The sprawling terminal building will be located on the site of the existing domestic passenger terminal, and will also serve as a springboard for the subsequent development of the entire adjacent landside area both next to the terminal and further out towards Vnukovo Settlement. The oldest of the Vnukovo passenger terminals, dating back to 1941, will be demolished by the time construction of the new one goes ahead (it started to be dismantled in November 2005). The existing Domestic Terminal 2, built in the late 1970s, will continue in operation until its eventual demolition during the final phase of construction and replacement with the new terminal.

The expansion plans include lengthening one of the two V-configured runways (3,500 metres (11,500 ft) and 3,060 metres (10,040 ft) long) to 3,800 metres (12,500 ft) and upgrading the instrument landing system from the present CAT II to CAT III. The existing taxiways are to be extended as part of the expansion and new ones will also be built, along with a brand new control tower, an extension to the cargo terminal, and a multistory car park.

Terminals

Terminal A is the only terminal used both for domestic and international flights. Terminals B and D are out of service as of October 2017.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger

Defunct
  • Pskov
  • Other