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DOHA: April 04, 2018. Qatar Airways has signed an MoU to acquire up to 25 percent of Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport, owned by the government of Moscow and Russia’s third-largest airport.

In 2015 Vnukovo handled 15.81 million passengers, up from 12.73 million the previous year, and reported a 20.6 percent rise in February 2018 traffic to 1.21 million compared to the same period in 2017. Cargo and mail volumes rose 19.9 percent during the month to nearly 6,000 tons.

UTairUTair, with its hub at Vnukovo (right), retains a 38.5 percent share of all passenger traffic. The airport handles over 170,000 flights annually on a route network that covers all of Russia as well as points in the CIS, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The most popular destinations during the latest Moscow winter were Istanbul, Phuket, Milan, Baku, Goa, Dubai, Bangkok, Dushanbe, Minsk, Tbilisi, Tashkent, and Gyumri (Armenia).

Qatar Airways group CEO Akbar Al Baker, who signed the MoU together with airport Board chairman Vitaly Vantsev, said the potential investment in Vnukovo would complement an existing relationship with Russia that includes direct services to St. Petersburg and, currently, triple daily flights to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

Commenting on the MoU, Vantsev said it could establish a foundation for a “productive partnership” between Qatar Airways and his airport: “Vnukovo International nowadays boasts the best transport accessibility and most advanced, cutting-edge airport infrastructure in Russia, enabling the airport's consistently impressive passenger growth performance nationwide. This gives me every confidence that our potential partnership will be mutually beneficial and good for all concerned.”

Qatar Airways investments include 20 percent of International Airlines Group, a 10 percent stake in LATAM Airlines Group, 9.94 percent of Cathay Pacific and 49 percent in Air Italy, formerly known as Meridiana. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund also has a 20 percent stake in London Heathrow.

Vnukovo can expect to benefit from the 2018 World Cup being held between June 14 and July 15 in 11 Russian cities: Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk. Host city Moscow will stage 12 matches as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup between November 21 and December 18 of that year.

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