Moscow prepares for next expansion, aims to become leading transit hub

Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) is preparing to launch the upcoming phases of its “2030 Master Plan” to become a leading transit hub. This year, SVO will enter its third runway into operation, and will begin the construction of a new parking apron as well as the second phase of its “Moscow Cargo” terminal expansion.

Upon entering operation this year, SVO’s third runway will double the airport’s available airfield capacity, SVO told Air Cargo Airports. Later this year, SVO said it will begin building an additional aircraft parking apron adjacent to its north terminal complex, with space for ten freighter aircraft. The airport will also begin construction of the second phase of its Moscow Cargo terminal expansion, which will include building hangars and warehouse space. The new parking apron is scheduled to be operational sometime next year, while the second phase of the cargo terminal is projected to be completed by and enter operation in 2024.

SVO’s current Moscow Cargo terminal, which opened in late 2017, is 42,300 square meters with an available capacity for 380,000 tonnes of cargo throughput per annum. It is equipped with automated cargo handling and storage systems, as well as temperature-controlled storage zones for pharmaceutical and perishable products. When it begins operating in 2024, the expanded portion of the cargo terminal will nearly double the terminal’s annual cargo throughput capacity to 740,000 tonnes.

In support of growing cargo volumes at SVO, this year, the airport plans to attain CEIV-Pharma certification for its temperature-controlled facilities. Volga-Dnepr Group carrier AirBridgeCargo, based at SVO, already obtained CEIV-Pharma certification in 2016.

According to SVO, the Moscow Cargo terminal is also the largest cargo terminal in Russia, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eastern Europe, and handled around 340,000 tonnes of cargo in 2018. The airport also hosts eight Chinese carriers – including Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines – with direct flights to nineteen Chinese cities, such as Beijing (PEK), Chengdu (CTU), Hong Kong (HKG) and Shanghai (PVG). While SVO may currently be the largest cargo airport in the region, it is facing increased competition from other airports, such as Budapest (BUD), which is vying to attract transit carriers through its own expansion projects.

SVO’s efforts to grow as a transit hub between Europe and Asia are supported by the Russian government. In 2017, the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation terminated paper-based customs notification for cargo. Also in 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law unifying international air transportation regulations in the country and entering Russia into the 1999 Montreal Convention. In August 2018, the Ministry Transport of the Russian Federation issued an order approving an “Electronic Cargo Manifest for civil aviation,” which went into effect 60 days following its publication.

In an interview with Air Cargo Airports, Moscow Cargo general director Vladimir Fedorenko said that the process of ensuring effective implementation across Russia will be difficult, however, because not all Russian regions possess the necessary technical equipment for the seamless introduction of the e-freight standard or to adapt completely to electronic document workflows.

Moving forward, Fedorenko said that the airport is interested in developing a platform for its airport stakeholders to share data and discuss common challenges they face in airport operations. It is also discussing plans to introduce a “one-stop-shop” at its cargo terminal to eliminate administrative barriers and facilitate ease in customs clearance procedures for customers, although further details regarding this project are yet to be determined.