Pointless reconstruction or boost for tourism? Three opinions about the airport in Abkhazia
New airport in Sukhum
Many call the project doomed because of the small population of Abkhazia, the lack of specialists, equipment and funds to service the airport.
But there are also arguments in favor.
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development on June 16 announced opening by the end of 2024 at the expense of a certain private Russian investor — according to the classified information of experts, this is the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is under sanctions from both the United States and the European Union.
The airport is located 18 kilometers from Sukhum in the village of Babushara, Gulrypsh district, and has not received passenger flights since the end of the Georgian-Abkhaz war in 1993. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) refuses to license the airport without the permission of the Georgian government.
During the Soviet period, the airport in Babushara sent about 5,000 people a day during the summer holiday season and up to 1,000 people in the winter, writes the “Caucasian Knot”. Now they are expecting that the annual traffic volume at the first stage of reconstruction will be 375,800 passengers.
Who will own the airport – Abkhazia or the Russian investor?
A year ago Aslan Bzhaniya stated that according to preliminary agreements the ownership of the runway would remain with Abkhazia, and the investor would own the airport complex. But it is not known whether these conditions still obtain
“The information voiced in St. Petersburg does not give an idea of what kind of agreement this is. In particular,
It is not clear who will benefit from this reconstruction – Abkhazia or the people who will receive this airport as their property.
It is not clear what kind of transportation there will be – only passenger or some other.
In Abkhazia, the text of the reconstruction agreement itself was not published, its details are unknown. Everyone is demanding that the government publish the full text, but the government pretends not to hear these demands,” Izida Chania, editor-in-chief of Nuzhnaya Gazeta, told the Caucasian Knot.
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“Reconstruction of the Sukhumi airport is meaningless, as it will be unprofitable”
Izida Chania also expressed skepticism about planned passenger traffic:
- “No research has been done on this topic. Numbers are heard – one million and even one million two hundred thousand passengers a year. But it is not clear what they are based on.
- In addition, aircraft, in all likelihood, will only be able to fly to Russia, the rest of the countries will remain cut off from us.”
Opposition member of the Abkhazian parliament Kan Kvarchia called the reconstruction agreement a “big scam” and doubts that passenger traffic can grow to the announced figure of a million passengers a year:
“I think that the airport, of course, is needed. But I don’t understand who will invest in reconstruction if there is no profit in the next 3-5 years. Unless there is some kind of scam here. ”
“The airport will not only pay off, but also become an incentive for the development of tourism”
Journalist Roin Agrba, on the contrary, told the “Caucasian Knot” that he is optimistic about the prospects for the future airport:
“This reconstruction is long overdue. They have been talking about it for 15 years already. It will fully bring returns.
During the Soviet period, when the airport was in operation, four times as many passengers passed through it than through the airport in Sochi – although we must take into account that there were also passengers traveling to / from Western Georgia. Nothing suggests that the situation is different now.
Now many tourists do not go to Abkhazia because of the prospect of spending 5-7 hours in traffic jams at the border. And the airport will naturally remove this problem.”
How does the airport in Babushara look after the war and 30 years of inactivity:
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