Moscow Airports

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Domodedovo International Airport (DME)

Domodedovo International Airport is Russia′s largest airport that holds the leading positions among Moscow area in terms of passenger traffic. Overall passengers through Domodedovo in 2006 reached 15.4 million passengers, a 10.1% increase over the same period of 2005. Such a significant growth was supported by the launch of services from the airport by new airlines, the reconstruction of the existing airport facilities, and implementation of new technologies as well as enhancement of customer services. According to last results DME maintains leadership in the Moscow aviation hub in terms of the number of passengers serviced in 2008. The general passenger turnover of the airport in 2008 amounted to 20 437 516 people, which is a 9% increase over 2007. Currently 78 carriers operate flights to and from Domodedovo on 207 destinations worldwide. Amongst them are 37 international carriers, 27 Russian, 14 from the CIS. The route network covered by DME′s partner airlines is quite unique: 84 destinations can be reached only and exclusively from Domodedovo. In 2004, the EAST LINE Group initiated implementation of a large-scale project designed to expand and modernize the Domodedovo passenger terminal.

The exterior and the interior of the passenger terminal have been completely overhauled since 2004. The Domodedovo airport terminal is also the only terminal in Russia that has been certified in compliance with the ISO 9001:2000 international quality standard and categorized as "C" in compliance with the classification of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

27 restaurants and cafes, 46 retail outlets as well as a round-the-clock Internet-center with comfortably appointed workstations are at passengers′ disposal. Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) is available in the business hall, the VIP hall, and in waiting rooms located after passport control of the International zone on the first and second floors. There is a DVD cinema in the waiting room that offers a pleasant and comfortable movie-going experience. A Duty Free zone operates in the international sector.

According to plans, in 2007, the first stage of the terminal reconstruction is to be completed and its area is to reach 220,000 square meters. The number of check-in counters will be increased up to 132, which will help to significantly enhance the capacity of the terminal. In 2007 the first stage of the construction of "Domodedovo Plaza" trade and entertainment center will be completed. Domodedovo offers passengers different options to check-in for a flight, which include inter alia check-in at late passengers counters or counters for passengers traveling without luggage. There are also counters for outsized luggage.

Of all the Moscow airports, Domodedovo is provided with the best quality ground transportation system. The airport is connected with the capital by a speedway that enables passengers to arrive at the airport on time for their flights, whether they use their own vehicles or public transit (route taxies, express buses). The airport is also connected with the capital by a railway. The Rapid Transport System (RTS) transports passengers from the downtown airport terminal located in the building of the Paveletsky railway station to Domodedovo airport and back. The terminal operates eight check-in counters.

Domodedovo airport today:

Domodedovo Airport 17-21 August 2009

As part of an English Aviation Tour, I revisited Moscow during August 2009. My aim was to photograph as many Russian aircraft’s as I can and hopefully with better weather then during my last visit in 2008.
The cheapest tickets I found from Amsterdam airport were with Tyrolean/Austrian Airlines flying via Vienna.
After a 2.5 hours leisurely flight with Austrian Airbus A321 we landed a day before the official start of the tour and checked in at Domo Airport Hotel, which is only a 5 minute walk from the main terminal.
Currently work in the main terminal is still ongoing and at times the airport can get very busy.

Aircraft spotting and taking pictures at Domo is currently very hassle-free compared to the old communist days. The main terminal consists of two levels (1-2) and features large windows towards the airside ramps. Both levels contain many seats/benches, clean toilets, coffee shops and a wide variety of good restaurants.
The 2nd floor has the best viewing locations for aircraft spotting and for taking pictures. If the sun is out, the best time for pictures is in the afternoon. During my visit I took plenty of photographs using my telezoom lens and was never bothered by security or police. It seems that a/c spotting is generally accepted at Domodedovo airport. Currently the terminal features two aircraft docking piers. Facing airside, the LH piers is mainly used for international flights and the RH pier for national and local operators. During my stay at Domo we flew out to St Petersburg airport onboard a Rossia Airlines Tu-154, using the domestic pier. The new pier is very modern and contains lots of shops/coffee places and has plenty of clean windows to take pictures from.

  On the LH side of the terminal, you will find the only ground-level car park, which is mostly used by passengers and visitors. The car park is partly surrounded by remote a/c parking area and faces the eastern runway. This runway is heavily used for take-offs, and taking pictures with 300mm lens poses no problem. There are ramp security cars driving along the fence all day long and normally they will not bother you. I only have two important tips for this location. When ELAL is on the ground don’t take any pictures and please do not climb into the fence. The Domo ramp security people do not like this!

I visited Domo in 2008 for the first time and was overwhelmed by the numerous Russian aircraft types and various operators in daily use. Now during my second visit the scene has changed dramatically. The collapse of Air Union in the fall of 2008, which was formed in 2004 as an alliance of five Russian airlines has left many TU-154/134 and IL62 aircraft standing idle on the ground. The arrival of many western types has also changed the scene. The S7 airbus A320 is fast becoming a normal thing at Domo.

Below is a short list of Russian types/operators which is photographed during my 5 day stay:  

Kolavia - Tu134
UT Air - Tu134/154
Kyrgystan Air - Tu154
Rossii IL-76 (not daily)
Ural Air - Tu154/IL-86
KMV - Tu154
Izavia - YAK 42/An24/Tu134
Rossia - Tu 154
Kuban Al - Yak42
Moskovia - Tu154
Atran - An12 cargo
Donbassearo - YAK 42
Volga Avia Exp - YAK 42/Tu134
Yamal - Tu134
Alrosa Avia - Tu154
Turan Air - Tu154
Daghestan Air - Tu154
Orenair - Tu154
Kapo Avia - IL62 (not daily)
SAR Avia - Yak 42
Severstal - Yak 40 (visitor)

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Moscow airports tour on a shoestring budget

  Jan Koppen - a vivid Old-Jets enthusiast and a good friend, works for the distinguished Dutch flag-carrier at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, decided to follow my footsteps to Moscow on a low budget.    
After viewing Michael his recent 2009 Moscow airport pictures, I decided to embark on an individual private Moscow airport excursion. Never having visited Russia before and travelling on a shoe-string budget this proved to be somewhat a challenging task. Michael provided me with the necessary information on how to use the Metro and train connection and the airport locations. With the help Google earth and several maps I quickly discovered the enormous size of the city. Searching the internet I found a very cheap hostel by the name of Capital Hostel, which is a 10 minute walk from the Kremlin and Red Square. The Hostel room rates are Rub 715 (16 euro′s) and its close proximity to the Novokuznetskaya Metro station made me decide to book for 3 nights. I wasn’t bothered by the bathroom and toilets facilities down the hall and sharing the room. This was the only way to met the Russian locals  
If you travel to Russia you still need to have a visa. Additionally one needs a so-called visa support and this can be obtained very quickly via the internet. Its cost 35 dollars to obtain an A7 travel voucher which you require for a visa. I travelled to the Russian consulate in The Hague for my visa (30 dollars). Working for the airline I have the possibility to travel on a stand-by basis (staff travel) and made use of these tickets. Initially I wanted to fly with Air Berlin tickets from Dusseldorf to Moscow. My plan was to depart Amsterdam airport on the 14th September and fly into Sheremetyevo airport. The next day visiting Domodedovo Airport, the Monino aviation museum and Khodinka airport with the use of public transport. Additionally I booked on-line tickets with Rossiya Airlines from Domodedovo airport to St Petersburg airport (former Leningrad) onboard a Tupolev -154M. Returning the same day with UT Air Tupolev 154M back to Moscow – Vnukovo airport. With a total ticket price of 134 euro′s it was a very good deal. In contrast my return flight to Amsterdam was scheduled with Aeroflot new Airbus 320 from Sheremetyevo.  
The flight with KLM was smooth and uneventful. After landing at Sheremetyevo I noticed the spacious and empty terminal. Only a handful Aeroflot where parked on the vast ramp. Sheremetyevo is a very large airport consisting of several terminals, Sheremetyevo-1 is for domestic and charter flights, while Sheremetyevo-2 is for international traffic. Here you can find a nice small restaurant facing the airside ramp on the 2nd floor. The domestic ramp is rather far away from view and aircraft spotting is somewhat difficult. It is possible to reach the far side with the use public bus number 871 and 851 which run every 10 minutes or so at a cost of Rub55 ( 0.60 euro′s). Aircraft spotting is very difficult from Terminal 1, at the moment there is a lot of construction going on and the ramp is very chaotic currently a typical Russian airport scene. In front of the terminal you can find a nice Aeroflot IL-18 on display. Just before the terminal you will find a technical school right next to the road. Several interesting ex Aeroflot aircrafts such as an IL-76, IL-62, IL-86, Yak 42 and Yak 40 can be seen and photographed. Be sure to watch out for barking dogs. Only a 5 minute walk from the school you will reach the approach end of one of the runways. This is a nice spot to photograph aircraft during the final approach.  
At the end of the day I took bus 851 to Rechni Vokzal Metro station which is in the northern part of Moscow. After getting off the bus my first language problems began. Nobody speaks English (even the youth doesn’t speak it). All of the writing and sign post are in Cyrillic. I tried to speak some Russian words I learned quickly, but that was not helping my situation a lot. My first impressions of the Russians are that they are not very helpful towards tourist and are somewhat discourteous. Eventually I found the metro station and was able to buy my first metro ticket. I entered the metro station and was surprised by the beautiful decorated wall and ceiling, which are full of the old Stalin communist symbols. The Moscow Metro is noisy, fast and cheap. The average ticket price is RUB 22 (0.25 euro’s). Within 15 minutes I was at the Red square. I got out at the Novokuznetskaya station and quickly found my Hostel. The place was run by two Old Russian ladies and was a good place to sleep for a man on a tight budget. 
This way you get to meet the normal Russian people. After a shower and a short rest I walked towards the Red Square and the Kremlin and watched the hordes of tourists. In the evening the Red square is bathed in lights and is a wonderful sight to see. Moscow is a modern city and does not reflect the live of the typical Russians…but I guess that′s the same with every big metropolitan. I found the Russian people to be cranky and do not a smile.  
After good nights sleep it was an early rise in order to go to Domodedovo airport for my flight with Rossia Airlines. They still used the Tu-154M on this route to St Petersburg and I wanted to sample this flight before all the old Russians airliners were being replaced by modern jets. Checking in the old fashion way with ordinary paper tickets is a thing of the past at Domo, its all e-tickets now. My Tu-154 flight was on time and within 30 minutes I was onboard the aircraft and enjoyed the start-up of the three Aviadvigatel D-30KU′s in the back. The aircrafts interior was somewhat dated but it felt very homely. We taxied along Domo infamous jet storage areas in the grass and line up for take off. Our start was very loud and the Tu-154 roared into the air and soon we were on our way to St Petersburg. The in-flight catering was not all to great but I really enjoyed the flight. The weather at St Petersburg was unexpectedly very cold. We arrived at the domestic terminal and hopped on the bus towards the arrival gate. Spotting at St Petersburg is very easy and nobody will bother you when you take pictures. Next to the main arrival building is an elevated parking area with great view across the ramps and runway. Some of the a/c park really close up which is great for taking pictures. All the international airlines such as Swiss, Air Berlin, KLM, and Lufthansa use the international terminal which is across the runway. 
Late in the afternoon I checked in for my flight with UT Air Tu-154M back to Moscow Vnukovo airport. The UT Air interiors have a more business (sterile) like feel. During the flight I got a meal which was not very tasteful. Our approach to Vnukovo was very exciting with several other Tupolev, Yak a/c in the approach circuit. The airport itself is packed full with lots of Russian types, even the Russian State Government fleet is based here. I was told that spotting here is very difficult due to the fact that the airport is building a complete new terminal which is blocking most views to the ramps. So upon leaving the terminal I hopped on the Aeroexpress train straight back to the Red Square for a good meal.  
The following day I went to Monino the Russian airforce museum. If you like the Old Russian design of jet fighters and civilian transports this museum is a must. The museum contains many interesting and exotic types of aircraft and helicopters. I took the metro to Shchelkovskaya station and then took a mini bus with destination Monino. The ride takes about an hour and cost Rub 60 (1.40 euro′s). Monino lies about 20 km’s from the Moscow ring in the Eastern direction. I got off at the Monino army (airforce) base and there is a little shop to get some food and drinks. (The museum itself doesn’t have restaurant)  
You have to enter the Army (airforce) compound in order to reach the museum. After passing the first open gate you have to walk 250 m for a second guarded gate, then walk a 150 to the left, 300 m to the right along a fence and then take a right for another 100 meters. You will see the museum entrance through the trees. Entry price is Rub 350 (7.70 euro′s) which I found expensive for foreigners. The museum is absolutely great; one can spend many hours inside. 
While I was roaming about, a Russian Air force IL-22, based at the nearby Chakalovsky airbase, which flew several times overhead and provided some back ground music. To my surprise an Antonov AN12 and a Tupolev Tu-154 departed in between the IL22 circuits. During the overhead flight I was able to read all the numbers and pictures are possible with 300-400 mm lens. During my lengthy stay at the museum I ran into 4 friendly Russian spotters. After the museum they invited me for quick lunch. We gathered around one of the guys Lada and he opened up his back luggage compartment for sausage sandwiches. From the back seat came small glasses for the vodka.  
After my unforgettable lunch I left Monino for the Khodynka now an abandon disused airfield in the midst of a sprawling urban Moscow neighbourhood. This airfield has been closed now for more than 15 years. It′s disused ramp full of helicopters and fighters from the cold era, have seen their last days and probably will end up in the shredder! I got out of the Aeroport metro station and walked for about 20 minutes to find the place. The twin engine IL-14 is in very poor shape as it has been set on fire by local vandals. It was a strange sight to see the line of broken down aircraft while the modern skyscrapers loomed overhead. After taking my pictures I made my way back to Sheremetyevo airport in preparation for my departure the next day.

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