Vnukovo International Airport
Vnukovo International Airport is the oldest airport in the Moscow metropolitan area. It is also the third busiest airport in Russia. The airport is one of three facilities that serve the Moscow area. The airport is 17 miles southwest of the center of the city. It is less than 7 miles from the Moscow Ring Road. The airport is located at a higher elevation that the other facilities in the area. This helps to mitigate the problems that are created by severe winter weather like snowstorms. This is one reason why Vnukovo International Airport often becomes an alternate landing site for planes that cannot safely approach the other airfields near Moscow.
History of Vnukovo Airport
Vnukovo International Airport was first constructed in 1937 in order to relieve congestion at an airport that was located closer to the center of Moscow. The other airport was eventually closed. War caused the airport to be used for military purposes until 1956 when the first passenger flights started. The airport did not change much until 1980. The Summer Olympics were held in Moscow in 1980 triggering a large expansion that helped to modernize the airport. The expansion was eventually followed by a major renovation plan that was completed in the early 2000s. The renovations involved the construction of new terminal buildings and better integration of the airport with local transportation hubs.
Vnukovo International Airport has two primary runways that intersect near one end. The longest runway measures 10,039 feet in length and almost 200 feet in width. The shorter runway is 9,842 feet long and just under 200 feet wide. Both runways have safety shoulders. Both runways are equipped with instruments that permit the airport to remain operational during periods of severe weather and reduced visibility. The runways are capable of handling 60 takeoffs or landings every hour. The airport also has the capacity to park over 100 aircraft of varying sizes at the same time. There are no restrictions on flight times. This means that the airport operates 24 hours a day.
There are currently two passenger terminals available at Vnukovo International Airport. There are over 2.1 million square feet of indoor space available between the buildings. Terminal B is the building that most international passengers will encounter. The three level building contains retail spaces, a lounge, arrival gates, and check-in counters. One of the lower levels is designated as Terminal D. Terminal D mostly services travelers who are flying short distances inside of Russia. Terminal A has been undergoing renovations and expansion for a long time. It will eventually add an addition 860,000 square feet of space to the airport.
There is a temporary terminal for high-profile travelers. These are generally very important Russian businesspersons, politicians, or international figures. The terminal is located in a separate area from the public passenger buildings. The terminal contains a special lounge for important people as well as other convenient facilities. Individuals who are using this special terminal are not seen by average travelers. There are some situations where airport operations are suspended or stopped in order to accommodate an important visitor passing through the facility.
Vnukovo International Airport served nearly 10 million passengers in 2011. This number is steadily increasing as the airport continues to expand. The airport regularly handles between 15,000 and 20,000 flights every month. The newest airport expansions can accommodate nearly twice the current annual traffic. Many plans are currently being enacted in order to make the airport larger and more efficient. Additional construction will occur in the terminals. The runways will also be upgraded so that they can qualify as category three locations. The runways are being upgraded in order to handle the massive multi-level passenger planes that are now being used.