An online petition to President Poroshenko calling on the Ukrainian government to allocate sufficient funding for the reconstruction of the runway at Dnipro International Airport has edged closer to the 25,000 signatures required in order to force a parliamentary review of the issue. By mid-November, the petition had attracted over 24,000 signatures, with a further 44 days before it is due to close.
Ukrainian businessman Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, who was behind the modernization of Kharkiv International Airport in the run up to Euro 2012, has publicly committed to financing the construction of new terminal facilities at the airport. However, he will only do so once the Ukrainian state allocates sufficient funding to cover the complete cost of a runway overhaul.
The existing runway at Dnipro airport dates back to the 1960s and is long overdue an upgrade. “The surface is in critical condition and has exhausted its operational life,” reads the text accompanying the online petition. “Residents and guests alike complain of poor service and inflated prices. Meanwhile, travel companies plot routes via Kyiv or Zaporizhia, but it would be much more convenient for residents of the Dnipro region to fly from the city itself. Dnipro airport brands itself as international but its current condition and appearance do not warrant this status. Please provide state funding of UAH 2.7 billion to cover all runway modernization costs.”
At a recent meeting with Dnipro journalists, Yaroslavsky stressed that there are no legal obstacles to starting the project, and that there will be no delay in the allocation of funds once the government has committed itself. "If you ask me if there is money for the airport terminal complex, I can say yes. I have USD 70 million ready to invest on schedule," he said.
Unless work begins soon, Yaroslavsky argues that Dnipro airport will not be able to continue operating much longer. “I think this is the last year when the runway can still be used for commercial flights. It is no longer possible to call it a runway in the modern sense. My pilots already refuse to land there as it is not safe.”
Yaroslavsky invested USD 107 million in the complete renovation of Kharkiv International Airport ahead of the UEFA Euro 2012 football championship. The airport has recently set a number of records for passenger numbers as it experiences unprecedented expansion and the addition of new international flights.