In June 2007 Zvartnots Airport officially opened its new airport terminal. The airport is located about 10km west of the Capital Yerevan. The airport was first opened in 1961 and has undergone several regeneration projects before with a new terminal area in the 1980s and a new air cargo terminal opened in 1998.
Armenia is one of the new emerging economies in Eastern Europe and has borders with Turkey, Iran, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The country forms a convenient gateway between Asia and Europe – a bridge between the East and West.
With the country beginning to attract tourism as well, in 2002 Armenia International Airports (the airport operator with a granted 30-year concession) decided to start the renovation and extension works of Zvartnots International Airport, in Yerevan, the country’s capital.
After fewer than 40 months, the new terminal (started in 2004) opened, with the intention of becoming a major link for tourism and commerce between Asia and Europe. In Armenia the road infrastructure is not good and to a large extent air transport is a factor in trade and business. After the June 2007 improvements the airport expects to attract two million passengers a year. The number of passengers in 2006 was 1,125,700 (an increase of 1.3% over the 2005 figure of 1,111,400).
Over 34 airlines operate from the Yerevan-based airport and fly to 60 routes around the world. The airport has one runway (09/27 – 12,629ft / 3,849m) paved in asphalt and there are 20 to 30 aircraft movements a day.
Improvement projects at the airport were carried up to 2010 according to the formulated master plan. Investment set aside for these projects has so far totalled €164m ($220m).
The first phase of the improvements, completed in 2005, largely involved upgrading the runway and runway lighting system at the airport costing $7m and $5m, respectively. In addition, across the airport the drainage system was also renovated along with the electricity substation. An important investment was also made in heavy-duty vehicles.
The second phase required over €70m ($100m) and included a 19,200m² extension of the original terminal building (this was for the arrivals hall, which opened in September 2006, and other facilities) and a refurbishment of around 45,000m² (addition of gates and jetways to the original terminal). On opening of the first phase in June 2007 the airport had also completed a 54,000m² apron and a new terminal with a floor area of 25,000m². The airport has also built a
1,000-space car park and fitted out a new cargo terminal with capacity for 100,000t a year.
Technology and comfort
Security has had to be improved at the airport to comply with international regulations. Measures have included increased security staff presence, baggage examination and screening and the installation of 150 surveillance cameras both inside the buildings and in open spaces across the airport.
Other technology includes the implementation of an innovative Flight Information Display System (FIDS) as well as new automated and biometric identification systems for baggage check-in and passenger control. All buildings are now equipped with Wi-Fi internet connection. The arrivals hall capacity has been doubled to allow a volume over 1,000 passengers an hour, and passenger management is further controlled thanks to a substantial extension of the customs areas.
In addition the airport now has new facilities for passengers including duty free shopping, relaxation areas and some excellent restaurants. Arrivals and departures are now both situated in the new terminal but check-in is carried out in the old renovated terminal which has new IT infrastructure.
The building of the new terminal was part of the agreement signed by the Armenian Government in December 2001 leasing the Zvartnots airport for 30 years to the Argentine-American company ‘Corporation America’, owned by Argentine-Armenian businessman Eduardo Eurnekian.
The ERDB and the German Investment Development Company have granted a $30m credit for a seven-year term for modernisation of the airport. Armenia International Airports is owned by Corporation America.
Contractors for the airport construction included: Nippon Koei UK who carried out engineering studies relating to the whole expansion project in 2002; Lufthansa Consulting / ERM GmbH who carried out environmental analysis of the airport site prior to the expansion and also developed an environment and health and safety audit protocol for the site.
In addition PWS International Inc was responsible for the new signage and displays at the airport and Alpha Door and Rail Inc were responsible for the internal fittings such as stairs, stair rails and glass partitions. The original round temple shaped terminal with the ATC in the middle was designed and engineered by ARMProject.
The construction of the new three-storey terminal began in June 2004. The building of 180m x 100m and a height of 20m was designed in the shape of an airplane wing and was built on existing paved airport terrain. There were no land acquisitions necessary.
Improvements for aircraft taxiing and parking were also made at the same time to bring the airport into ICAO compliance. The double-glazed façade, wall panels and the ventilating structure of the building, as well as the southward orientation were designed to be energy saving, reduce noise, make full use of the natural light and negate the need for air conditioning.
The new terminal design integrates into the existing landscape of the airport landside buildings. The ground-floor level of 8,500m² is for arrivals and the upper level is for departures. The building was designed to be resistant to seismic activity as there is a risk in the area. The terminal includes new bars and restaurants, duty free shops, check-in areas and a new operating centre for security control.
The terminal is equipped with three triple embarkation ramps and two single ones. This increases the total embarkation capacity over the whole airport to six gates comprising five fixed-position gates and one remote. Each triple ramp has one arrivals ramp and two for departures. The triple ramps and the sterile zone enable fluid arrival and departure movement to be organised and separate.
On the third level situated 12m above the ground floor, a VIP area has been built which includes a special lounge and retail areas which enjoy a direct view of the departure lounge.
In 2008, construction on a new $244m terminal began. The 52,000m² terminal is expected to be completed by late 2011. It will have 46 check-in desks and a 25,000m2 car parking area that will accommodate more than 600 cars. About 40% of the terminal roof will be of glass. The terminal will handle up to 3 million passengers a year. The operator of the airport has already secured $60m for the project.
The airport is in the Ararat Valley, with the Ararat mountains to the north and the east. The area of the airport drains in south / east direction via the Hrasdan River which runs 1km east of the airport in a south / southwest direction and subsequently drains into the Arax River.
South of the airport there are suburban areas along with small trade and rural areas. In the west and south of Yerevan agriculture is the dominating land use. There are no designated sensitive areas, such as nature reserves, wetlands or bird protection areas in the immediate vicinity of the airport.
The fuel tanks at the fuel farm are on ground, do not have secondary containment and do not comply with international standards. In order to meet future requirements, the fuel farm is due to be demolished and rebuilt. Waste management is another area in which the airport is still doing some work particularly concerning run-off from the de-icing pad.
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