Flying in Discomfort

07.11.2011 | kyivweekly.com.ua

National airport in need of facelift

It´s official! Boryspil Airport is one of five worst airports in the world. This likely does not come as a surprise to the international community transiting through Ukraine, nor to locals who are shocked at the great services found at airports across the border in the Czech Republic and Poland, or to even those workers who dole out poor services with attitudes to match on a daily basis. Boryspil earned its notoriety following the latest Sleeping in Airports survey as a result of long lines, the decrepit state of the Terminal One building, which has not seen a can of paint since Leonid Brezhnev´s last visit, corruption and theft of baggage. Unlike Poland, which has been sprucing up its airport for next summer´s EURO 2012 onslaught, Ukraine has done little to improve Terminal One, which is still in use until the new Terminal D opens. Fans should expect a long wait. Things could also turn into mayhem if some emergency happens. Last year a New Year´s snow storm shut down Borysil for three days. Hundreds of passengers were deplaned and not allowed to go back to Kyiv to wait until the runways were cleared. By day two, scant food stores at the soviet hold-over cafeteria were sold out, and public sanitation was stretched. Passengers staged a near riot, tearing down a Christmas tree and further ruining already broken chairs. The authorities have taken little heed of this disaster and, in seemingly wishful thinking mode, are already hoping for fine June weather. The deep-seated corruption of officials and theft of passenger luggage simply reflects the widespread corruption and theft found throughout society. Visitors to the country immediately takes a dim view of Ukrainian life when greeted by missing luggage, scary officials, and aggressive cab drivers, no matter how wonderful the rest of the public treats them. With 20 years into independence, it is time to train airport workers to international standards and install a food court. Ukraine is blessed with sights, sounds and geography that attract tourists. Tourism brings a much needed financial boost to the economy that eases the tax squeeze on the ordinary citizen, and costs little more than a continuous supply of toilet paper. The authorities should turn from persecuting the opposition to upgrading facilities.

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