The price tag for modernizing ground support equipment at Russia’s airports could be at least $1.4 billion. That’s according to estimates from the government-run State Transport Leasing Co.
The Russian market of ground support equipment is steadily growing, reflected by the ever-increasing demand for high-quality GSE from Russia’s leading airports and the rise in the quality of provided ground support services.
In addition, the government is planning to open up competition for ground handling services at three of its largest airports through a state agency that will be responsible for attracting private companies to invest in equipment and manpower.
The main reason for this growth in recent years is straight-forward: Russia’s leading airports are in the process of modernizing airfield infrastructures and with it comes the natural purchase of new, modern GSE.
For example, the Northern Capital Gateway, an international investment consortium that includes Fraport AG Company, manages Pulkovo Airport, serving St. Petersburg. Last year, management invested about $30 million in the purchase of new ramp equipment for Russia’s third busiest airport. More equipment can only be expected since the airport has a master plan stretching until 2025 that calls for massive modernization, including constructing a new third terminal that will feature 18 gates.
Most of the funds were used for the purchase of six multipurpose Vammas PSB 5500H snow removal equipment, specifically designed to serve the runways and taxiways of airports during winter. Also, Pulkovo Airport became Russia’s first airport to purchase the Schmidt ASP 45 a vehicle designed to spray anti-icing fluid onto runways in a single pass up to, as the name implies, 45 meters or almost 150 feet.
At the same time, the Moscow Domodedovo Airport, Russia’s largest airport in terms of passenger traffic, invested about $20 million last year for the purchase of up to 50 units of various pieces of GSE.
According to Elena Selyanchinkova, the airport’s corporate affairs director, these new purchases increased the airport’s total fleet of ground service equipment to more than 3,000 units. The majority of funds were invested in the purchase of aircraft tugs, highloaders, deicers and apron buses.
“Most of the purchased equipment has no comparisons to equipment in Russia,” Selyanchinkova said. “This is due to the fact that Domodedovo became the first Russian airport, which serves such large aircrafts as Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.”
In 2003, the airport began an expansion program designed to obtain approval for wide-body aircraft operations. The runway, taxiways, and parking areas were enlarged and strengthened.
Currently, Emirates is the only airline that operates the A380 to Moscow from Dubai, which launched in 2012. Plans are also in the works, however, for hub airline Transaero, which has agreed to receive four A380s by sometime next year.
Among the most important types of GSE purchased by the airport are the Malaghan CT8000 highloader, which is designed for the delivery of flight catering to the A380, which has an elevating mechanism with a range of heights served from 118 to 330 inches; the Elephant Beta-15 DeIcer, with a telescoping jib with the length of 75 feet, as well as a high capacity SCHOPF F396, a tow tractor designed for every wide-body aircraft on the market.
In addition to Pulkovo and Domodedovo airports, up to $20 million for the last two years were invested in the modernization of airfield infrastructure and purchase of GSE by the Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport, Russia’s sixth busiest airport, located in Siberia.
PROMISING YET COMPLEX
According to the State Transport Leasing Company, Russia’s largest leasing company in the field of transportation, despite the various airport modernization plans and resulting growth of the GSE market, the current situation in the industry remains promising yet complex, particularly for what remains of domestic makers of GSE.