With its annual traffic figures soaring from 3.8 million passengers in 1998 to over 30 million today, clearly Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) is one of Europe’s fastest growing gateways and a significant revenue generator.
Indeed, the airport operator is a Russian success story and has been as good as its word in investing billions of dollars on upgrading the airport’s key aeronautical infrastructure.
Now, after more than a decade of concentrating on enhancing the terminal, airfield and support infrastructure, the airport is ready to start the next phase of its development through the creation of its own aerotropolis.
Appropriately called Domodedovo Aerotropolis, the plan is to build a cluster of developments on a 7,000-hectare site around the airport that will include hotels, exhibition and conference halls, offices, storage and logistics facilities, industrial sites, residential areas, parks, shopping malls, factory outlets and car parking facilities.
A multi-product, time-critical logistics and distribution zone has been talked about as have an aviation industry zone, flex-tech and bonded warehouse areas and an Innovation Special Economic Zone containing clusters of research and technology parks and micro-electronics and pharmaceutical complexes.
In addition, a health port offering medical tourism and wellness centres and an education port offering executive education and aviation-industries/logistics training are proposed.
Hotels and service apartments would support short-term visitors and workers at these clusters, while high quality mixed-use residential developments would house many of their full-time employees.
Daniel Burkard, Domodedovo’s senior vice president for non-aeronautical development, notes: “We plan to create a series of interlinked commercial and industrial facilities at a distance of up to 25 kilometres from the airport whose economic impact will be felt as far away as 90 kilometres.
“We have reserved more than 16,000 hectares in Domodedovo City District for the airport, 9,000 hectares of which have been set aside for key aviation infrastructure, leaving 7,000 hectares for the development of Domodedovo Aerotropolis.
“No other airport in Europe has so much land available to develop. Paris CDG has 3,238 hectares, for example, and Amsterdam Schiphol – which has pioneered the airport city concept – and Frankfurt Airport around 2,678 and 1,900 hectares respectively.”
So what is the appeal of an aerotropolis? “Experience has shown that an urban structure in the vicinity of the airport is very helpful when it comes to growing the airport beyond a certain size. Frankfurt, Amsterdam Schiphol and London-Heathrow area are fine examples of this,” says an airport spokesman.
“Domodedovo’s location far from Moscow’s city limits gives us the unique opportunity to design, develop and build urban structures near DME, which will be attractive for businesses as well as passengers and people living in the area, especially if their work is airport-related.
“The key developments cover everything that you would expect to find in an urban environment. However, our focus is on businesses, education, entertainment or infotainment, medical issues, transport and hospitality. It is a long-term vision and its development will depend on many factors.”
The airport has revealed that it wants to add at least 190,000sqm of shopping facilities, 350,000sqm of industrial space, 160,000sqm of offices and an extra 1.8 million square metres of hotels by 2023 under the umbrella of the Domodedovo Aerotropolis project.
The facilities and their timescale for development are based on analysis of the existing market south of Moscow and market research carried out by DME and international firms Ernst & Young and Cushman & Wakefield into the potential future needs of customers.
The aerotropolis project has already begun, of course, as a host of new aviation and non-aviation related facilities have already been built either at or close to the gateway in recent years to ensure that it has been able to cope with the rise in demand.
These have included the opening of LSG Sky Chef’s Flight Catering Factory and a new four-star, 350-room hotel.
DME admits that it has taken inspiration from a number of existing airport city/aerotropolis developments across the globe.
“We have carefully reviewed similar developments in Europe, the USA, Asia and the United Arab Emirates in order to learn from best practice as well as from any mistakes they may have made,” says a DME spokesman.
“We believe that there are many promising projects across the world and have gone out of our way to learn about them, often speaking directly to our airport colleagues behind the schemes because we are not in direct competition with them and jointly share an aerotropolis vision.”
Cushman & Wakefield estimates that Domodedovo Aerotropolis will create up to 94,000 new jobs and numerous for-profit companies, and believes that the unique town-planning entity can generate significant tax revenues for the regional budget.