EBACE Convention News

St. Petersburg, Russia, Boasts Two New FBOs

 - May 22, 2013, 2:30 AM
The new Pulkovo-3 FBO in the Russian city of St. Petersburg represents a significant improvement in handling infrastructure for business aircraft, according to its developer, JetPort SPb. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, has a new FBO and by year-end it should have a second. The Pulkovo-3 FBO at Pulkovo International Airport officially opened for business on March 6, initially handling only domestic flights. According to the purpose-built facility’s operator, JetPort SPb, it should be ready to handle international flights as soon as customs and immigration facilities are fully in place.

The new private terminal occupies a 24-acre site between the Pulkovo-1 domestic airline passenger complex and the main cargo warehouse. The main part of the FBO is a 43,000-sq-ft, two-floor business aviation immediately adjacent to Pulkovo’s apron area number six,with space for parking approximately 28 aircraft.

The next phase of JetPort SPb’s privately funded $65 million development should be completed in late 2013 or early 2014. This will include hangars large enough to accommodate three Boeing Business Jets or as many as 18 midsized jets. It will also include a covered and heated area for the FBO’s comprehensive array of ground-support equipment and vehicles.

According to JetPort SPb general manager Sergei Pugin, the major investment will take several years to recoup, sending a signal that its backers are in the FBO business for the long haul. JetPort SPb is a partner company to the RusAero group (Booth 763), which also includes Moscow’s Vnukovo-3 business aviation center and Vipport FBO.

All 150 JetPort SPb employees are from the St. Petersburg area and many of them are graduates of the city’s prestigious Civil Aviation Academy. Their motto is “comfort in the skies and on the ground.”

JetPort SPb holds all necessary certificates from the local aviation authorities for ground handling and passenger services. The company was founded in May 2009 and began operations in October 2009 using rented space in the Pulkovo-2 international-flights terminal.

The new FBO offers a full array of handling and flight-planning services, in addition to arranging ground transportation and common concierge services such as hotel and entertainment bookings. According to Pugin, the JetPort SPb’s handling costs are somewhat below those of the Moscow FBOs.

The Pulkovo-3 terminal has been designed from lessons learned from earlier private terminals in the Moscow area. With a nominal capacity of 1,500 passengers per day, it looks fairly similar to Moscow’s Vnukovo-3, but with two, rather than three floors, and a main entrance in the center of the building.

The main difference between FBOs in Russia and most European countries is that the Russian facilities allocate a lot more space for passengers rather than flight crew and other personnel. There is a reason for this in that Russian law requires both international and domestic passengers (whether traveling by scheduled airlines or business jets) to pass formalities on departure and arrival.

Unlike the main Vnukovo-3 building, which is an international terminal (there is a separate terminal for domestic flights nearby), Pulkovo-3 combines the following sectors: international passengers–arriving and departing; domestic passengers–also arriving and departing; crews flying international flights and crews operating domestic services. Because by Russian law these groups have to be completely isolated, this accommodation was incorporated into the design of Pulkovo-3.

Immediately after entering the building, travelers pass through a metal detector and their baggage is scanned. Then they proceed to a reception desk in the middle of the hall where they can check the status of their flight. The ample-sized facility is outfitted with comfortable sofas, a large number of chairs and a smart-looking bar on the right of the entrance.

Those who need to proceed immediately take either the left lane (international flights sector with passport control and customs) or the right lane (domestic). After passing all checks and formalities, the international passengers can enjoy a comfortable departure zone, including a bar and a duty-free shop; domestic passengers have access to the same accouterments except duty-free.

All travelers can access Wi-Fi, Russian and foreign magazines and newspapers, and digital TV. There are separate arrival zones for incoming flights.

Meeting rooms are also available in the terminal. The second floor is home for JetPort SPb staff, and representatives of partner companies, including business jet operators. Flight crews enter the building at a separate entrance in the hand right corner and can enjoy a comfortable crew rest area.

Except for Moscow with its modern FBOs at Vnukovo, Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports, the rest of Russia is nearly void of dedicated business aviation infrastructure. But the country’s second largest city certainly deserves a first-class FBO of its own. In addition to its reputation as a cultural gem, St. Petersburg has a thriving industrial sector. This includes no fewer than eight automotive factories, vibrant shipyards and a number of other industrial plants recently reopened after a downturn in the 1990s.