Four in the top 20, twelve in the top 100. Russian airports dominate the 2020 European airports ranking in point of passenger traffic. Travel bans issued by the government because of the Covid pandemic have been softer than anywhere in the world, with Russian tourists able to reach holiday destinations including the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean for most of a year.
Traffic was down in Russia as it was in all other Countries around the world, but to a lesser extent. Furthermore, it is Russian the only airport in the European top 100 where passenger numbers grew in 2020, if compared with those of 2019. The ‘miracle’ happened on the north-eastern shores of the Black Sea, in the Krasnodar Krai region, where Anapa Airport (AAQ) recorded 1,813,347 travellers, or 10.5% more than 1,641,000 registered during the previous year, occupying (as a new entry, of course) the 84th spot among European top 100 airports in 2020.
Officially opened in 1976 with the inauguration of a passenger terminal on the site of a Soviet Naval Air Force base, during the 1970s and 1980s, Anapa hosted flights to nearby cities like Krasnodar and Sochi, plus services to the USSR Capital, Moscow, operated mostly by Aeroflot’s (SU) Tu-154s. As the Soviet Union collapsed, in 1991, AAQ recorded 6,828 take-offs and landings, serving 439,600 passengers.
In the post-Soviet era, the airport gained international status and in 2001 it received flights by S7 Airlines (S7), which gradually became one of the main users of the airfield, flying the first scheduled flight of a Boeing to AAQ in 2006 and the first scheduled flight by an Airbus in 2008.
In 2011 the 8,202ft (2,500m)-long 04/22 runway was resurfaced, followed by the main ramp one year later, though the major development at AAQ in 40 years came in July 2017, as a new terminal building was opened, officially serving as a backup facility for Sochi, which was one of the 2018 FIFA World Cup host cities. The new RUB 1.4bln (USD 23.4mln) facility has a floor area of 127,000sqf (11,800sqm) and a throughput of 1,100 passengers per hour. It hosts a lounge dedicated to Business/First Class traveller, four restaurants, three bars, a few shops, a pharmacy, a luggage storing facility and free wi-fi.
It is managed by Basel Aero (which also operates Sochi and Krasnodar airports), a company owned by Basic Elements Ltd, one of the largest diversified industrial groups in Russia, owned by oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
Flight operations are dominated by Russian carriers: Aeroflot serves Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO), IrAero (IO) Moscow Zhukovsky (ZIA), S7 Airlines Moscow Domodedovo (DME), Novosibirsk (OVB) and, seasonally, Ivanovo (IVA) and Lipetsk (LPK), Ural Airlines (U6) Osh (OSS), Tashkent (TAS) and Yerevan (EVN). Because Anapa is a popular seaside resort town for Russians, many other airlines have seasonal (summer) flights only, including Rossiya (FV) to Saint Petersburg (LED), Pobeda (DP) to Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk, Nordstar Airlines (Y7) to Moscow Domodedovo, RusLine (7R) to Voronezh (VOZ), Smartavia (5N) to Nizhny Novgorod (GOJ) and UTair (UT) to Moscow Vnukovo (VNO) and Ufa (UFA). (Photo header Anapa Airport)