Participants in the “Transport as an Interface of the Region's Development” YIEF 2017 session discussed the opposite trends in the logistic and passenger transportation sector. On the one hand, the peninsula’s transport accessibility has improved and the industry outlook is good: The “Sochi–Yalta–Sevastopol” cruise ship route has been established and highways are being built and repaired. On the other hand, many urgent issues remain, while the Kerch highway, which has become Crimea’s main arterial, is about to experience higher loads.
The city of Sevastopol’s Department of Transport and Road and Transport Infrastructure Development Head Igor Titov spoke about the outlook for the Belbek airport near Sevastopol. The aerodrome used to receive civilian flights until 2014 but has been used exclusively by military aircraft since then. “The Belbek airport will live, as funds for that have been allocated under the Federal Target Programme for the Development of Crimea and Sevastopol,” Mr Titov said. “We are weighing our options: either a business and charter jet airport, a division of the Simferopol airport, or a full-fledged stand-alone airport. This is up to an investor that will build the terminal to decide, but no such investor has yet been found.”
At the same time, construction on the new terminal complex at the Simferopol airport is underway at a fast pace. General Director of Simferopol International Airport Evgeny Plaksin invited the Crimean leadership to decide how to use the existing terminal once the new one is up and running. One proposal is to turn it into a bus station.
Black Sea Cruises will launch a cruise ship along the Sochi–Yalta–Sevastopol line this summer. “Make no mistake: this is not a step towards improving the region’s transport accessibility; it’s more like frosting on a cake,” CEO Evgeny Berkov said. “The launch of the Sochi–Yalta–Sevastopol cruise line will add to recreation opportunities on the Black Sea. We are planning to open navigation in late June. We are now selecting tour agents to guide tourists in our ports of call. Sales of cruise tours are going better than we expected.”
The Minister Transport of the Republic of Crimea Anatoly Volkov said transportation volumes in the peninsula have been on the rise since 2015. Growth varies between 10% and 30% annually depending on the destination. “Freight shipments experience the same trend, up 12% per year. We are planning to start large construction projects, putting more pressure on the railway. We would like to see the number of subsidised flights into Crimea increase,” the minister said.
Head of the Highway Service of the Republic of Crimea Alexey Safronov warned that once active construction starts on the Tavrida federal highway, problems would arise affecting traffic from the Kerch ferry towards Simferopol. “Speed limits will be introduced at certain sections and the highway as a whole will turn into a construction site. Driving from Kerch to Simferopol will take five or six hours”, Mr Safronov said.