Domodedovo Airport


A longtime wish, a visit to the city of Moscow, came out this fall. After having read the numerous articles on the diminishing fleet of Ilyushin and Tupolev airliners, I decided it was time to go, before all these wonderful soviet built machines forever disappear.

Through some of my aviation contacts I became aware off a UK based aviation tour operator AMT/Andy March, which was going to make a Moscow City airport tour for photographers. I signed up for the full August trip. All major airport in and around Moscow were included in the itinerary, including full ramp tours. Also included was a ramp tour on a Russian Air Force base and the huge Monino Aviation Museum. This all was under the guidance of an English spoken tour guide named Olga.
My friends and I decided to stay a couple of days longer and we made a return trip to St Peterburg airport flying onboard a Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154 airliner. Normally during August you can expect fine weather with plenty of sunshine. Somehow the weather gods were in a nasty mood. We were plagued with low clouds, rain and temperatures ranging between 11-13 degrees Celsius. Under those conditions it was tough to make good pictures. So perhaps another visit to Moscow seems necessary, hopefully with better weather conditions.

Domodedovo International Airport

Domodedovo International Airport (IATA: DME, ICAO: UUDD) is an international airport located 35 km (22 miles) south of the centre of Moscow, Russia. It is one of the three major Moscow airports along with Sheremetyevo International Airport and Vnukovo Airport. Domodedovo is the largest airport in Russia in terms of passenger and cargo traffic.

Services from Domodedovo began in March 1964 with a flight to Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) using a Tupolev 104. The airport, intended to handle the growth of long-distance domestic traffic in the USSR, was officially opened in May 1965. A second runway, parallel to the existing one, was put into service 18 months after the opening of the airport. On 26 December 1975, Domodedovo Airport was selected for the inaugural flight of Tupolev Tu-144 to Alma Ata.

Since 1996, Domodedovo Airport has been operated by East Line Group on a 75-year lease, although the runways continue to be controlled by the state. The group has been heavily investing in reconstruction of the airport, arranging for customs to be more convenient and the airport to be kept clean. Because of various issues at Sheremetyevo, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, and Austrian Airlines moved their flights from there to Domodedovo. They were followed by Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Thai Airways International and Lufthansa. Meanwhile, Aeroflot had moved some cargo operations to Domodedovo. DME is Russia's first airport to have parallel runways operating simultaneously. Since the air traffic control tower was redeveloped in 2003, DME can control over 70 take-offs and landings an hour. The airport now has five business departure lounges, set up by individual airlines. BA opened its Navigator Club Lounge in 2003. It is fully equipped with Wi-Fi Internet access, food and drink concessions, showers, a cloakroom and massage chairs. The airport is also the hub of some of Russia biggest airlines like S7 Airlines which is the biggest airline tenant in the airport as well as Kras Air and Transaero.

East Line's strategic goal is to stabilize the airport's future, and establish it as a major international and multi-modal transportation hub. In the first nine months of 2004, international passenger flow at DME increased by 52.8% compared to the same period in 2003. Domestic passengers and cargo volumes also increased significantly, making DME one of the world's key airports. DME benefits hugely from its close proximity to the Russian capital, enhanced by its transportation networks. The airport has 136 square kilometers of land reserved around its immediate vicinity, allowing the potential to develop a further seven runways.

Just a 5 minute walk from the main terminal you can find the Domodedovo Airhotel. The Airhotel belongs to East Line Group, the operating company of International Domodedovo Airport. Airhotel offers 294 comfortable rooms corresponding highest world standards including Airhotel Club rooms de-luxe suits, 5 junior suits and single and double rooms featuring individual air-conditioning and climate control systems. Comfortable minibuses carry hotel guests to/from the airport and Airhotel. The Airhotel is a good option when you want to stay at the airport for a couple of days.

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