Russia plans to restore air traffic with breakaway Abkhazia, and pledges to assist Sokhumi regime to rehabilitate Babushara airport, which, according to de facto president Aslan Bzhania, will be completed in 2024.
On Thursday in Sukhumi, Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov met with the regime’s Vice PM Christina Ozgan, where they discussed the details of the restoration of air traffic. First of all, they talked about the reconstruction of the airport.
The preliminary cost of reconstruction works was calculated, and sources of financing were considered, as well as air traffic maintenance issues, states Sokhumi de facto government.
“The launch of the airport and the restoration of air traffic will be accompanied by the renewal of engineering communications, and development of hotel and restaurant infrastructure,” Christina Ozgan said.
“Importance of the project implementation has been increasing taking into account the economic situation and political circumstances. Direct flights from Russia to Abkhazia will increase the tourist attractiveness of the region, and provide additional revenue to the budget,” Reshetnikov said.
“Given the scale of the project, the Russian side will provide comprehensive support. An investor has already been found, and an agreement of intent has been signed. Various options for the operation of airlines in Abkhazia are being considered,” added Dmitry Vovach, Reshetnikov’s deputy.
Russia and Sokhumi authorities are preparing to conclude an agreement on assisting “the republic” in the implementation of the jointly prepared program of socio-economic development for the period 2022-2025. It defines tourism as one of the key sectors of the economy, the press service of the Abkhazia’s de facto government states.
The airport is located near the village of Babushara, Gulrypsh district, 18 km from Sokhumi. It was built in the mid-1950s and modernized several times. It was closed by order of the Georgian authorities after the War in Abkhazia in October 1993. In 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO annulled its code and removed subsequent information from all of its documents.
In July 2019, the de facto government adopted a resolution on giving the airport the status of a “joint-based airfield” and assigning the code “URAS” for its inclusion in the Aeronautical Information Collection of the Russian Federation (AIP).
The length of the airport’s runway is 3.6 km, which allows it to receive almost all types of civil aircraft. During the Soviet period, the terminal served up to 5,000 passengers per day. The air hub is currently used to base the Russian military aircrafts.