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Over almost 20 years of Ukraine’s independence not a single airport was built or reconstructed in the country. Over this period the airports that Ukraine inherited from the Soviet times became outdated and dilapidated. By the time Ukraine won the bid for EURO 2012 there were simply no airports in the country that met international or EU standards and had an extremely unattractive appearance.
Given this, UEFA took the program of airport reconstruction in the host cities of EURO 2012 under its tight special control from the very start.
Among other things, the availability of modern airports is also important because if there are problems with accommodation of the championship’s guests, fans can attend the games by the simple principle: arrival – stadium – departure. In all cities, UEFA experts outlined the basic requirements: the number of passengers that an airport must be able to handle within one hour and technical specifications of landing strips that must be able to receive large aircraft such as Airbus A-320 and Boeing B-737.
Naturally, Ukraine understood that the country’s airports must eventually be reconstructed, but there were even more pressing issues plus the issues of private-state partnership remained unsettled. EURO 2012 gave a powerful push in this direction. In two host cities – Kyiv and Lviv – the government and local budgets were made responsible for the reconstruction of international airports. In Lviv and Kharkiv local businessmen also became partners of the government when they leased the airport buildings on long-term conditions. The state also reconstructed the landing strips in these two cities.
For different reasons, in all cities but Kharkiv the deadlines were not met and the cost estimates were exceeded. Nonetheless, all airports in host cities will be commissioned in April 2012 and by the start of EURO 2012 they will all be operating at their full capacity.
The international airport in Kharkiv has been operating since July 2011. Its capacities and conveniences are especially pleasant for passengers that recall what the airport used to look like.
Airports are the key argument of Ukrainian leaders in response to allegations that the preparation of the infrastructure for EURO 2012 at the expense of the national budget is an unaffordable luxury for a country going through serious economic hardships. “The championship will last for only three weeks, but the new airports are there to last for good and will facilitate the influx of foreign guests to Ukraine – businessmen and tourists – which also means the influx of money,” said Vice Premier Borys Kolesnykov, who is responsible for preparation for EURO 2012.Printable version