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Airport for nobody

The modernization of the country’s infrastructure is a holy cause, the quintessence of state policy. Infrastructure reduces social costs and, by providing a powerful incentive for business activity, literally pushes society forward. But the main thing is that it gives freedom, because freedom is an excess of infrastructure.

Nevertheless, infrastructure projects are very complex due to the multilevel consequences of their implementation.

Let’s consider this on the example of one of the seemingly indisputable projects – the construction of an international airport in the ski resort of Sheregesh, which has already become a household name.

It would seem, what questions can there be? One of the true symbols not of Kuzbass, but of all modern Russia, a symbol of brilliant success, a synonym for joy and happiness, the Sheregesh resort deserves an airport, period!

And how can the authorities of Kuzbass be wrong in declaring its necessity?

But the first thing that catches your eye is an estimate of the cost of construction. In 2019, the leadership of the Kemerovo region talked about 3.2 billion rubles, and in 2021, after a sharp rise in the cost of materials, only 2.8 billion for the construction of the runway. Meanwhile, the airport, as far as one can judge, should be located in the mountains, which increases the estimates, in my opinion, to 14-15 billion rubles.

Thus, the economics of the project itself is unclear, especially considering that Sheregesh (unlike Sochi) is a seasonal resort. Yes, the “season” lasts a very decent 4-5 months, but the rest of the time the airport’s load will be low.

It is significant that the Sheregesh airport will be designed for tourists mainly from the western regions of the country – while the resort accepts primarily residents of Siberia, whose requests are much more modest than the conditional “metropolitan”. It does not have a service that meets the expectations of tourists from the western regions – and it is not clear whether it will be able to create these services in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, the general decline in living standards, which will continue for the foreseeable future, will intensify competition for these tourists – and Sheregesh is unlikely to be able to win it.

Thus, there is a classic designer’s mistake: the airport is not oriented at all to those tourists who the resort is oriented towards.

In addition, the third international airport will obviously become redundant for Kuzbass with a population of 2.6 million people. (for comparison: the Greater Moscow agglomeration with a population of at least ten times more has only four international airports, which also serve as hubs for the entire country).

Does the region really need a new airport, in which there are many other priority problems? Why spend tens of budget billions on a seasonal airport? And is it really not enough for Kuzbass to have two existing international airports in Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk?

Moreover, the airports of Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk, which are focused on the needs of the population, and not tourists, will lose the modernization they need. Meanwhile, their runways are over 30 years old and in need of renovation; the life of the runway in Kemerovo ends in 2024. Its reconstruction has already been planned by the state, but if budget funds go to Sheregesh, it will most likely just have to be forgotten.

Particular attention should be paid to budgetary funds. Now they talk about the project as a private investment of billionaire Trotsenko (Novaport). But its managers report that they plan to attract other funds, including budget ones. And speech, most likely, about attraction of money of the federal center. It turns out a good story at public expense. Does Governor Sergei Tsivilev understand all these problems, or was he simply misled?

The released funds (mainly from the federal budget) can be used to solve other pressing infrastructure problems – both in Kuzbass and Siberia as a whole (suffice it to recall, for example, the absence of a railway connection in Tuva).

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Source From: MK

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