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Two Moscow airports likely to miss World Cup expansion deadlines


Two of Moscow's busiest airports will likely miss a crucial deadline for their new runways before the country hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup, reports in the Russian media indicate.

Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) was scheduled to get a third runway, in construction since 2011, before the first arrivals of travelers and football fans for the World Cup which starts in June 14, 2018. The airport's third landing and takeoff strip would have nearly doubled the hub’s flight capacity - from 55 to 90 flights per hour.

But the Rosaviatsiya state aviation agency has reportedly informed Russia’s Transport Minister that the project would not be ready when the games kick off. According to the Russian Vedomosti business daily, the third runway at Sheremetyevo, which is estimated to cost $1.1 billion, was only half ready as of March 2018, France 24 reports.

It is not the only expansion project running behind schedule. There is also a possibility that a new runway for Moscow's second largest airport, Domodedovo International Airport (DME), would miss its deadline for the World Cup, Vedomosti said. That project, costing about $225 million, was 80% ready, but its contractor declared bankruptcy in 2016. Construction at both airports must be finished by mid-May 2018.

Russia's World Cup organizing committee told AFP that the reported construction delays were "possible", saying, however, that the likely “change of delivery of the new runways” at the two Moscow airports “will not in any way affect the successful execution of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Transport Plan."

Sheremetyevo spokeswoman Anna Zakharava told AFP that the airport took into account the possibility of the runway not being completed when it prepared for the World Cup, but that they "will be able to handle all the scheduled flights without a problem."

Vedomosti said, Sheremetyevo's delays were caused mostly by bureaucratic hurdles, such as taking too much time to get approval for transferring existing gas and oil pipelines and litigate land purchases from local residents, Ruaviation reports.

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