ULYANOVSK: the investment oasis in love with aviation, Focus Communication
Release Date: 2011-11-30 00:00:00This report, dedicated to Ulyanovsk region as the aviation capital of Russia, is focused on the efforts by the regional government to promote the unique aviation competences of Ulyanovsk, the special economic zone "Ulyanovsk-Vostochny" and the main scientific and manufacturing companies and institutions in the areas of production of aircraft, aviation equipment, avionics and training.
The aim of this report is to unveil the potential of Ulyanovsk region for the Russian aviation and its readiness to act as the "door to Russia and window to Europe".
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ULYANOVSK: the investment oasis in love with aviation
ULYANOVSK: the investment oasis in love with aviation
Ulyanovsk: romance and ambitions
If you look for Ulyanovsk in the Lonely Planet, all you will find, before a brief historical overview, is “Founded as Simbirsk in the 17th century, Ulyanovsk is a tourist stop for only one reason: it is the birthplace and childhood home of Lenin (born Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov)”. What Ulyanovsk is doing now is working to add ever more reasons to visit it – whether for tourists or for investors. But it is not surprising if you never heard much of this small (by Russian standards) city 893 km east of Moscow on the shores of river Volga, an endless source of beauty and a strategic transport corridor. In fact, Ulyanovsk is all about poetry and great ambitions: it is a romantic landscape sketched by Pushkin, the world famous Russian poet, on his Volga trip in XIX century, and is the birthplace of the world famous revolutionary; it also represents people devoted to aviation and businessmen devoted to investments and added value; moreover, it represents the cultural capital of the Privolzhsky federal region and the new aviation capital of Russia.
The latter is just one of the numerous poetic titles granted to Ulyanovsk in its new stage of development, now that Sergei Morozov, governor of Ulyanovsk region, is working to connect four key elements – his passion, his authority, local and federal investments and international business – to prove that the revival of Russian aviation will start here, 35 years after Aviastar-SP, the first local aircraft production facility of national importance, appeared in Ulyanovsk. Five years ago, on the dawn of this new movement, Ulyanovsk woke up to realize that it is now facing the ambitious target of becoming “The aviation capital of Russia” by 2020. In the following years, news was flashing up (this is probably why Lonely Planet still thinks Lenin) of the arrival of Michael Porter’s cluster philosophy in the local aviation context, the birth of the brand “Ulyanovsk: ready for take-off”, the federal approval of the Airport Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny”, forming of the science-education-industry consortium “Ulyanovsk-Avia”. All this occurred in a matter of a few years – hardly enough for a non-native speaker to learn to say ‘aviastroenie’ (‘aircraft manufacturing’ in Russian) and ‘tekhobsluzhivanie’ (‘MRO’ in Russian), something that foreign investors will need to do.
Aviation starts with love
It would be logical to ask: why here? It is far (relatively far) from Moscow, well away from busy cargo hubs, it has a relatively weak (but no longer stagnant) local economy and outbound migration, and lies among stronger regional rivals like Samara and Kazan… While the regional economy is still recovering, a broader look at its geography speaks for itself: within a 500 km circle, Ulyanovsk is surrounded by 3 cities with over one million strong population. Before introducing numbers, let Morozov explain his standpoint: “In 2005, when I started talking about the importance of developing Russian aviation and aircraft production, I was merely interested in boosting the work of Aviastar-SP, our city-forming enterprise. But I realized that this was no panacea for a city with very diverse aviation companies. As the governor of the territory of aviation, I felt the need to set up a high target – to save aviation – and involve state leaders, heads of aviation companies, specialists and journalists. Today, I can say that it is a success: Aviastar-SP is working, the theme of Russian aviation is more and more present on the federal agenda, and the state machine is slowly turning towards supporting aviation. What is most important is that people now believe that there is a solution”.
What characterizes ‘the territory of aviation’ that the governor discovered in the beginning of his first term, aside from having true believers? Ulyanovsk has a proven aviation background in various segments of the industry. This is the key to build up synergies among the companies that represent aviation in its diversity: Aviastar-SP, the largest Russian aircraft manufacturing facility, UKBP and Utes, avionics and radio electronics manufacturers, Ulyanovsk branch of Tupolev design bureau, two airports – Ulyanovsk-Vostochny and Zentralny, two cargo carriers - Volga-Dnepr, the major world carrier of unique heavy cargo, and Polet, Ulyanovsk Aviation College, a unique pilot training center, Ulyanovsk State University and Ulyanovsk State Technological University. Synergy of local manufacturers, avionics companies, design bureaus, airports, carriers and universities - as the backbone - is the main idea of the Ulyanovsk aviation cluster that borrows the best world practice in industrial clusters.
The new elements of the cluster, essential for its development, are an investment platform and a transport forum. The investment platform - the Airport Special Economic Zone “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” (named after the airport that it is based on) - is the financial motor of the cluster. SEZ is a greenhouse for large investors who share Morozov’s belief in aviation. “Ready-made investment platforms, administrative support, growing aviation cluster, a unique geographic position, and favorable tax regimes for the import of cargo and export of Russian goods, as well as a structured system of tax exemptions, preferences and budget subsidies make Ulyanovsk one of the best investment centers in Russia”, summarizes Dmitry Ryabov, general director of Ulyanovsk Region Development Corporation.
The idea of the transport forum was embodied in April 2011 in the International Aviation and Transport Forum, Ulyanovsk’s own exhibition, airshow and conference platform supported by the Russian transport ministry, Russian ministry of industry and trade and United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
According to Evgeny Aronzon, head of the project “Aviation Capital of Russia” and executive director of the Forum, the big idea is to “pick out” the professional community from 5* hotels and bring them in the fields where aviation is made. Ulyanovsk is a perfect platform to see real aviation and discuss the federal issues of the industry that are applicable anywhere in Russia. According to the regional government, the International Aviation and Transport Forum held in April 2011 brought US$32.8 million of investments in the region. Aronzon stresses that both the Forum and the project “Aviation Capital of Russia” are federal projects that are meant to “breathe life in the aviation industry”.
Ulyanovsk as ecosystem for investors: a proactive approach
Ulyanovsk as ecosystem for investors: a proactive approach
A Russian joke says that if the mountain will not come to Mohammed, it means that Isaac had paid more. After the governor’s announcement of making investor friendliness a regional priority in 2005, Ulyanovsk is proving that its environment can drive the growth of businesses so that the mountain is not tempted to choose another location. But from the beginning, step 1 was to break the odd mentality. “In 2006-2007, we managed to change the mentality of many directors and employees in municipal, legislative and federal structures, and explain that investors are good and not evil”, tells Dmitry Ryabov. Step 2 was to pass over administrative support and engagement of investors from civil officers to special organizations – as it is done in the rest of the civilized world. As a result, Ulyanovsk Region Development Corporation, a regionally-owned body responsible for developing investment projects, became a unified ‘dispatch center’ for investors, as Dmitry Ryabov describes it. Results? According to different estimates, including those of the federal government, the Ulyanovsk region is in top ten, top five or sometimes top three most attractive Russian federal subjects in terms of investments.
Interview with Dmitry Ryabov, general director of Ulyanovsk Region Development Corporation
Mr. Ryabov, six years ago, when the program for developing Ulyanovsk aviation cluster was announced, the region started to look for ways to find favorable conditions to develop projects and attract investments. How do you generally assess the investment climate of the region and its changes?
We have been improving the regional investment climate for six years now, after the arrival of the governor and his team in 2005. Investment activity was announced as a priority of the regional development, and we were open to any investors from the very beginning. We started to study and implement world business practices and Russian practices.
What were the achievements?
Firstly, we managed to build a system of administrative support for the investors. We don’t wait for people to come with their projects – we are the ones looking for investors. This is our proactive position.
Secondly, we have over these years created a system of financial support that is proving to be attractive for many investors. First part of this system is a unique set of fiscal exemptions and subsidies that we offer for a period of eight years from the moment the project is launched. Besides, we offer subsidies for the rest of VAT and personal income tax that we refund to the investors the next year as subsidies provided that the project will be implemented before 2015 with minimal investments of US$6.3 million. The other very important part of financial support is availability of ready production sites – where we are among the Russian leaders. According to our estimates, taxes, subsidies and free infrastructure save up to 30% of investments.
Who are your clients?
Our clients are Russian or international companies that are officially planning to make investments in Russia. Our task is to learn about them in due time, find them, enter the tender and offer the best conditions, including a comfortable environment for living in Ulyanovsk or the Ulyanovsk region.
Our #1 priority are direct investors and direct investments, companies that know their product, know what they want, and are looking for better conditions for investment. Such investors produce an immediate effect on the region. We have projects to enter into share capital, innovative projects that we are generating with our technopark and our nanocenter in conjunction with Rusnano. We have ready offers for sale, local enterprises or businessmen who want to sell their business or attract partners to free production facilities.
What is most important is not just the state support but also the will of the authorities to act as a real partner. Our task as Ulyanovsk Region Development Corporation is not just to attract investors and visit forums and exhibitions but also to create an ecosystem, deliver all the wishes of the investors to the government. In some way, we are the continuation of the government where we work as one team with the modernization and regional development department of Ulyanovsk regional government.
Will investment projects encourage modernization and development of local industry?
By all means, they will. Efficiency indicators (tax yield, productiveness at work) for all projects that we have constructed or that are being constructed exceed those of the existing companies of the region.
You have mentioned that you’re ready to compete with other regions. Is Ulyanovsk, as a brand, well-established like, for example, Nizhny Novgorod or Saint-Petersburg?
Saint-Petersburg or Nizhny Novgorod do not have more investment agreements than us. Moreover, it should be clear that Saint-Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod are initially in a slightly different weight category than Ulyanovsk in terms of population, proximity to Moscow, and the availability of high speed transport. An economic calculation will show that we will surely offer the investor more commercially viable conditions to locate a production facility because we have lower than average payrolls, more qualified staff, cheaper land to sell, more benefits, and ready infrastructure. And here, Saint-Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod cannot beat us.
“We feel that the process is moving: certificates to the first three residents have been awarded, we have considered applications of another four potential residents, and a lot of negotiations have taken place. Construction of infrastructure for the ASEZ is starting in early 2012. The first residents of ASEZ will in total bring about US$127.6 million of investments in the next 3 years”, comments Dmitry Ryabov.
Special Economic Zone “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” as investment instrument
Airport Special Economic Zone “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” as investment instrument
Ulyanovsk has core companies, competences in aviation and two airports, one of them with the 5th longest runway in the world (5.1 km), and what it wants is arrival of new businesses to develop new competences related to MRO, manufacturing and logistics. Development of these competences will help to form new cooperation chains, generate production and create a cargo hub. The local business resource created by Ulyanovsk regional government as an instrument to attract investors is the Airport Special Economic Zone “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” chosen by the Russian ministry of economic development as the federal platform for aviation projects, funded 70% federally and 30% regionally. According to Denis Baryshnikov, head of ASEZ “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny”, it is the “door to high growth market for foreign business and a window to Europe for the Russian manufacturers who can borrow world competences”. Morozov says that the ASEZ is “the locomotive to transform Ulyanovsk in a thriving and independent region”. The role of ASEZ as an investor greenhouse is all the more important because aviation, as experts agree, involves risk: large investments, remote results, and uncontrollable variables – the possibility of changes in market situation and less benevolence coming from the federal center.
ASEZ is good for your business
Future residents of the ASEZ will manage to save up to 30% of investments and costs. To give a breakdown of the exciting economics, Baryshnikov lists the advantages: firstly, general infrastructure—roads, railroads and all utilities—are provided by the state and the region. Secondly, the price of land in Ulyanovsk-Vostochny is 70 times lower as compared to the Moscow airports. Thirdly, the fiscal discounts—no property tax, no land tax, no transport tax, lower profit tax (15.5% for residents), and the option of locating and using foreign goods (equipment, raw, components, construction materials) without paying duties and VAT. Tax breaks provided by the Ulyanovsk region last 10 years. Abolishment of custom duties creates optimal conditions for international companies—both importers and exporters of Russian aircraft. On top of it, Ulyanovsk is at the heart of economic activity within the range of 1,500 – 2,000 km. About 40 million people - over 45% of Russian population - live within 1,000 km around Ulyanovsk.
The three core competences of the ASEZ are manufacturing (aircraft, components, avionics, composites), MRO (foreign and Russian aircraft, helicopters, business jets) and logistics (cargo handling, warehouses, wholesale). Why are these activities important? Ulyanovsk needs to revive production facilities that was stagnant during the last 20 years and develop greenfield MRO, answering the needs of Russian MRO market, and logistics, capitalizing on its favorable geographic position.
The first portents
Effective October 2011, the first three residents of ASEZ who were officially awarded resident certificates by Elvira Nabiullina, Russian minister of economic development, in August 2011 are FL Technics Ulyanovsk (Avia Solutions Group), Volga-Dnepr Technics (Volga-Dnepr Group) and Vityaz Avia Corporation (official Russian representative of Viking Air Limited (Canada).
Volga-Dnepr Technics and FL Technics Ulyanovsk are opening MRO – one of the most complex and profitable activities of the cluster. Volga-Dnepr Technics will specialize in MRO for wide-body and ramp aircraft with take-off weight up to 450 tons (An-124-100, Boeing-747, Boeing-777). A local MRO center will support Volga-Dnepr’s business activity as a global cargo carrier based in Ulyanovsk.
The other MRO resident, FL Technics Ulyanovsk, is the Russian subsidiary of Avia Solutions Group, a diversified aviation holding and the Baltic leader in ground servicing of aircraft. Avia Solutions Group plans to build three hangars in 2014-2018 in the SEZ to service a range of foreign jets that potentially includes SSJ-100 – depending on the requests of their clients. Avia Solutions Group is also looking to bring its valuable world expertise in ground servicing and MRO, and is eyeing up the Ulyanovsk Higher Aviation College of Civil Aviation as a source of skilled young people who can be further trained with Avia Solutions Group to mature as technical specialists.
The first investor in the production segment is Vityaz Avia Corporation, official representative of Viking Air Limited. In Ulyanovsk-Vostochny ASEZ, Vityaz Avia Corporation is planning to launch production of the Twin Otter Series 400 – an internationally well-known regional aircraft that has been successfully operated for more than 40 years in different climates. This aircraft has a 5,670 kg take-off weight and up to 19 seats. Experts estimate the potential demand in Russia at 200 units.
Why is the Twin Otter Series 400 good for Russia? “We have selected a versatile STOL aircraft that can very well fit in the Russian airport infrastructure”, says Sergey Antsiferov, general director of Vityaz Avia Corporation. “DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 services Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, it is the aircraft for Nepal's mountains, it is the aircraft for Africa's heat, it is the aircraft for the sea operations".
What’s even more important, DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 is a ready-made regional transport solution. Currently, due to the absence of any appropriate aircraft in this segment, transportation in remote regions and on local airlines in Russia is an issue, and the operators are forced to use helicopters that Antsiferov believes are by far a less cost-efficient solution than aircraft. Twin Otter primarily targets the northern regions - Siberia and the Far East - where this aircraft, capable of performing under low temperatures, will be invaluable. “This is especially vital due to the need of a new aircraft for regional economic development, new oilfields exploration, as well as for transport accessibility and life standards improvement”, adds Antsiferov.
The crucial role in the decision to reside in Ulyanovsk ASEZ was, according to Sergey Antsiferov, the possibility to hire local qualified specialists for the aircraft production as well as the opportunities that the local aviation cluster can provide.
According to Vildan Zinnurov, deputy governor of Ulyanovsk region, the main mission of the ASEZ “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” is to develop aviation projects and the transport potential of the region to enhance its strong competences. “Our target is to become Russia’s aviation capital by 2020. To achieve this, we implement projects and create centers for business activity”.
MRO: outsourcing goes global
MRO: outsourcing goes global
The main trends
The three main trends in MRO globally are more outsourcing (less in-house MRO done by airlines), lack of MRO facilities and hunger for qualified technical staff. At the same time, MRO is a very high added value and profitable market that Russia is losing.
In 2010, the volume of the MRO market in the post-Soviet countries reached US$830 million, according to an evaluation by David Stuart, partner of AeroStrategy, with Russia accounting for 61% (about US$500 million), Baltic countries - for 8%, and other post-Soviet countries — for 31%. Stuart agrees that Russian MRO providers are losing the market because a substantial share of aircraft operated in Russia is serviced abroad – and Russia as a venue for MRO has a low profile with potential foreign customers. At the same time, the Russian MRO market needs more players, more facilities and more investments.
Why is Russia losing the MRO market and what is its estimated financial value? According to Andrey Denisenko, general director of Sibir Technic, Russia loses around US$1.5 billion per year in MRO services to the foreign providers due to imperfect customs and fiscal regulation that makes is not cost-effective or impossible to do MRO. The main reasons why MRO customers prefer foreign contractors are too extended terms of delivering spare parts - 5–14 days – compared to the European 72 h, a customs clearance process that is too long and high customs duties which increase the cost of MRO in Russia. As a result, Russia loses the profitable and highly technological MRO market and working places.
Despite the negative trends, AeroStrategy forecasts a 4.4% growth of MRO market in Russia in the next decade so that by 2019 its volume will reach nearly US$750 million.According to Dmitry Ryabov, “The demand for MRO in Russia is growing year-on-year, and if we don’t take it on now, tomorrow will be too late”. The good news is that Ulyanovsk is making a bet on the potential and the profitability of MRO. This initiative was taken by Ulyanovsk Airport Special Economic Zone that will develop MRO as one of its three core types of activities in cooperation with the foreign and national leaders.
Ulyanovsk ASEZ offers unprecedented conditions to address the main factors - customs clearance and high customs duties - that increase MRO costs and time in Russia. Firstly, custom duties are abolished within the ASEZ. Secondly, foreign spare parts need no customs clearance in the ASEZ so that the participants in the ASEZ and their clients can receive spare parts in 24 hours (for complex products)—30-40 times less than the current market speed. The concept of the ASEZ is to create a one-stop-solution for all types of aircraft - a supermarket that provides maximum service to each operator. “At this moment, large operators are interested in organizing service stations in Ulyanovsk thanks to the favorable conditions for repair companies and MRO centers”, comments Denis Baryshnikov.
Meanwhile, the general philosophy of MRO is changing – both in terms of “how” and “where”. According to Gediminas Žiemelis, chairman of Avia Solutions Group, Ulyanovsk’s first foreign resident in MRO segment, the greatest change in the organization of MRO came when the first low-cost airlines appeared in the U.S. They managed to dramatically reduce ticket prices outsourcing MRO services. It made other operators see that more flexible smaller companies can do MRO cheaper than an airline would do in-house. “The general trend is that by 2020, the notion of an efficient airline will be equivalent to brand + ticket platform + staff + interstate code sharing agreement. The rest will be outsourced. Eventually, this trend will reach Russia as well”, comments Žiemelis. Roger Lehman, partner of Oliver Wyman, an international management consultancy, agrees with this: “Low cost airlines – the largest clients of independent MRO providers – will spend up to 80% of their budgets for fleet servicing”.
“Our credo is European quality and 24/7 client attention for Soviet prices”, says Gediminas. You can tell that this guy, a fluent Russian speaker who grew up in ex-Soviet republic of Lithuania, son of the signatory of Lithuania’s Act of Independence, knows what stands behind the notion of “Soviet prices”.
Gediminas Žiemelis, chairman of Avia Solutions Group: European quality for Soviet prices
Gediminas is very proud to announce that FL Technics - part of Avia Solutions Group and one of the eight companies globally who have obtained Boeing’s Golden Care certificate that includes the support of e-solutions, spare parts and the engineering for the Boeing Dreamliner – will be the first to maintain Dreamliner “in our region”. When asked what “their region” is, Gediminas replies with an enigmatic northern smile. Maybe, we could just as well say “anywhere”…
Gediminas, MRO is one of the main activities of Avia Solutions Group. Do you see favorable market situation in terms of MRO in Russia?
Historically, MRO in Russia and CIS was in this or that way connected with us. Firstly, Lithuania is a Russian-speaking country with the highest ratio of certified aviation personnel per capita. Our specialists are trained according to the philosophy of Western equipment. We have EASA Part-147 certificate that allows us train and retrain engineers. More than 1,000 engineers per year, sent by third parties, study with us.
In Russia, we see a pipeline of opportunities in MRO because production of older jets had collapsed while modern jets were not constructed. Besides, Russia had no structure focused on servicing foreign equipment. Meanwhile, the growth of GDP is 7-9% – this is directly linked to growth of passenger flow and active import of foreign jets. Decline in the production of Russian aircraft and growth of passenger flow form a vacuum in MRO. Moreover, Russia now has strong and stable economy that will stimulate the passenger flow even more.
Is Avia Solutions Group going to expand its competences to service new Russian aircraft?
We are market players, and we do what the market needs. Our motto is: European quality for Soviet prices, individual approach to the client and 24/7 attention. If our client needs MRO of Russian aircraft, we are ready to find a solution.
What attracted FL Technics, as a professional in MRO, to open FL Technics Ulyanovsk?
For us as an ASEZ resident, the fiscal benefits are not the decisive factor. First and foremost, you should be wanted. Ulyanovsk wanted our expertise and our knowledge. Secondly, Ulyanovsk has an aviation college that we would like to cooperate with as a potential employer. The third factor is geography that is suitable for us. The fourth factor is the hangars. Our hangars in Vilnius are overloaded, and we do not plan to construct new hangars there. We have 26 line stations in the world. In the next 3 years, we plan to grow to 35-36 stations where airlines are based, with 10 stations in Russia.
In general, the aviation business has no borders; only 20-22% of MRO is now done in hangars. The rest – repair of components, engines – can be done remotely, and we are improving our systems for more flexibility. Hangars in Europe are 47% loaded, and will be loaded even less, because the philosophy of the new jets is to spend less time in hangars and more time in the sky.
In this case, what drove Avia Solutions Group to open three hangars in Ulyanovsk in 2014-2018?
Ulyanovsk offers a technical base and favorable conditions to supply stock and components. But it’s not only that. We think wider than cost-cutting: much more aircraft will be operated in five-seven years from now, and we should be ready for that.
What can Ulyanovsk do for global transport and logistics?
What can Ulyanovsk do for global transport and logistics?
An important area where aviation ambitions of Ulyanovsk region are yet to be fulfilled is development of intermodal cargo transport capitalizing on a unique geographic position. Historically, Ulyanovsk has been the geographic center of Russia on the crossroads of trade routes from South to the North and from West to the East. 20 million inhabitants populate the 500 km circle around the city, with 8 regional centers. The key assets here are a railway hub, two A class airports – Vostochny and Zentralny, two river ports, automotive routes and two cargo airlines - Volga-Dnepr and Polyot - based in Ulyanovsk. In fact, these 4 transport modalities compose Ulyanovsk’s unique transport potential that none of the neighboring regions can offer. Sergey Morozov sees these assets as very strong potential to create a local multimodal transport and logistics complex connected with other regions and countries through railway, roads, air gates, and water arteries. In this model, the international connections and the regional connections within Russia complement each other.
Points of growth
The ambition of developing transport and logistics creates a chain of elements related to social, economic and infrastructure challenges that Ulyanovsk region will need to address before the new hub appears on the global map of logistic routes. Firstly, Ulyanovsk’s 603,000 strong population loses out to the neighboring bigger cities, meaning that consumption here is still relatively low. Secondly, the local GRP is less than 3% in the GRP of Povolzhye federal region (however it doubled over 4 years); volume of outbound trade with the neighbor regions also grew over 4 years – from US$132 million to US$405 million – but the region is still behind its largest neighbors, Samara and Tatarstan. The volume of passenger turnover in Ulyanovsk airports is under 500,000 people – the minimum that commercial investors require. Meanwhile, Morozov realizes that economic and social development will trigger mobility of the population, passenger transport and development of local airports, and has set very clear targets: to reach 1.5 increase of GRP, production indexes, investments and growth rate of real cash income by 2016.
Now that Ulyanovsk has its own platform to localize production – the Airport Special Economic Zone “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” based on a namesake international airport – the plans look less idealistic. The planned cooperation within the hi-tech production of the cluster, good conditions for arrival of SMEs and aircraft production and servicing projects should eventually, if investors remain interested, generate and sustain cargo flows. Morozov sees ASEZ, the local investment instrument, as a perfect cargo solution: “Creation of ASEZ will enhance Russia’s position on cargo transit market between Europe and Asia, boost the development of Russian cargo carriers and develop the national and regional economy”. Irek Akhmetov, director of “Ulyanovsk-Vostochny” airport, the basic airport of the ASEZ, confirms: “We are ready”.
Alexey Isaikin, president of Volga-Dnepr Group, is also positive: “As soon as there is a chance to transport cargo from Ulyanovsk directly – not through Moscow – to Yekaterinburg, it will be a victory, and we hope that this victory will sustain the dynamics of our business. Today, seeing the actions of the Governor’s team in Ulyanovsk, we change our forecasts. Companies with well-developed cooperation that are emerging in Ulyanovsk ASEZ is a favorable growth factor”.
In 2010, the regional cargo turnover in Ulyanovsk was slightly above 0.1% of the total for Russia. Experts estimate that if air cargo is redirected to Ulyanovsk’s not-so-busy sky, transport tariffs might fall 10-20% due to higher loads of transport and cheaper servicing, handling and storage. Also, delivery from South East Asia and Europe to central Russia and CIS will be up to 7 days shorter.
A new Memphis?
Wonders do happen and history remembers these examples. A relevant success story is Huntsville – a U.S. city with similar history where nothing could have forecasted the birth of a transport and logistics center. Its growth started in 1940, when Redstone Arsenal appeared nearby after WWII started. In the 1950s, it became a space center, and is currently one of the largest U.S. logistic hubs.
Alexey Isaikin quotes the case of Memphis: “Federal Express once started with a conscious choice of a provincial town. But a global hub did not emerge there overnight. They were gradually increasing service volumes and made Memphis an operational center that is now world famous. The question as to where the Russian Memphis will be is still unanswered. And now, Ulyanovsk needs to take a breath and move this way in small steps”.
Alexey Isaikin, president of Volga-Dnepr Group: we are rooted in Ulyanovsk
Twenty years ago, human imagination could hardly think of transporting something like gas turbines or rockets with aircraft. Volga-Dnepr Group has managed to create the demand for transport of unique and extra heavy cargo using the capacity of An-124 “Ruslan” and Il-76. This took time because the Group, that now comprises a regular carrier, a charter carrier, a new feeder airline and a maintenance company residing in Ulyanovsk ASEZ, was working to embrace the whole world. Today, Volga-Dnepr Group is just moving forward.
The government of Ulyanovsk region, the residents of Ulyanovsk aviation cluster, as well as the local companies agree that Ulyanovsk has all the prerequisites to become one of the largest transport and logistic hubs in Russia …
It was only now, ten years after the word “hub” emerged in the expert lingo, we came to realize that a local hub is really important. The main issue is that a hub works as a combination of passenger and cargo handling. Half of our cargo is transported in baggage sections of passenger aircraft, so a passenger hub, according to our understanding, should be complemented with a cargo hub. We support and propagate the idea of global cargo hubs: Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Vladivostok, Saint-Petersburg. It is possible that a regional hub will also emerge in Ulyanovsk.
Hopefully, Ulyanovsk ASEZ will support the development of Ulyanovsk as a hub...
Ulyanovsk is the hometown for our company, and we are always glad to see that the city is getting new prospects, especially if it happens with our help. Today, when we see the actions of the Governor’s team in Ulyanovsk, we change our forecasts. Companies with well-developed cooperation that are emerging in Ulyanovsk ASEZ is a favorable growth factor.
Ulyanovsk is the talent foundry for the entire Volga Group: our corporate university in Ulyanovsk has tight connections with Ulyanovsk universities, we have construction projects in Ulyanovsk. We’re an Ulyanovsk company, and we’re proud of it, we never hide our Russian roots, however we were offered to change our brand – Volga-Dnepr – so many times because it was “not readable in English”. After 20 years, we have confirmed that it is readable. Moreover, our brand is recognizable, and we’re proud of it.
We want to be as famous as many other world famous brands. Moving forward and developing is the direct way to world leadership, and we’re gald that we’re gradually moving in this direction with the Governor’s team and with Ulyanovsk region. A year ago, we found out that Volga-Dnepr Group hit the top 10th position in the world. Federal Express – the company that has grown up in Memphis and has made it a world famous hub – was the first. It looks like both Ulyanovsk region and Volga-Dnepr have room to grow.
Regional aviation: finally, an outlook for revival
Development of cargo transport is impossible without passenger transport, which includes the development of regional aviation. Small steps in this direction are being made: according to Evgeny Aronzon, Ulyanovsk is discussing possibilities of opening new regional flights in cooperation with the neighboring regions: the agreement on forming Aviation Regions Association with Samara, Kazan, Irkutsk, Perm and Moscow regions - signed in 2011 during MAKS airshow - will support Ulyanovsk region's activity of developing regional aviation.
The first move that raises hopes for local revival of regional aviation is the arrival of Vityaz Avia Corporation - the exclusive representative of the Canadian Viking Air Limited in Russia, that came to Ulyanovsk ASEZ for manufacturing of DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400.
This economical and unpretentious aircraft is well-adapted to the Russian climate and infrastructure. According to Sergey Antsiferov, general director of Vityaz Avia Corporation, the capabilities of Twin Otter Series 400 relief the issue of investing in airport infrastructure because this STOL aircraft is well-adapted to land on low density soils. In summer, it can land on any suitable water basins that accompany virtually any settlement in Russia. This is good for Ulyanovsk - a region that believes into combining the potential of earth, air and water.
Moreover, explaining his decision to launch the Canadian aircraft in Ulyanovsk ASEZ, Sergey Antsiferov stresses the importance of its transport and logistical potential: "We are interested in development of the transport and logistic hub in Ulyanovsk as its potential consumers because we need quick delivery of spare parts or components for aircraft on the basis of our center in Ulyanovsk ASEZ. This is an opportunity to provide world class service”.
In terms of developing passenger transport, where well-organized airport infrastructure is essential, a positive outlook is given by Sergei Nakonechny, general director of Ulyanovsk-Zentralny airport: “We have proven that we can have up to 100,000+ passengers per year. In 2009-2011, the annual increase of passengers was 36%, while the industry average was 18%. I expect 100,000 passengers in 2012. When the region is developed and attractive enough for the business, the passenger flow will grow to develop the airport”.
In spite of its stronger transport competitors - Samara, Nizhny Novgorod and Tatarstan – Ulyanovsk is ready to act. “We will seriously compete with the airports of Samara, Kazan and Moscow where all the carriers are mainly concentrated today. What we have is our competences that is something of which we can be proud”, affirms Vildan Zinnurov.
Ulyanovsk-Zentralny: our top priority now is active growth
Ulyanovsk-Zentralny was included in Federal target program “Development of Russian transport system till 2015” envisaging US$54.2 million (with US$38.2 million of federal funds and US$17.5 million of regional and private funds) for the reconstruction of the runway and aprons in 2010-2011. “The runway is an asset of Ulyanovsk Higher Aviation College of Civil Aviation. As high quality pilot training is given a lot of attention now, I think that funds will be allocated to reconstruct the runway. Our top priority now is the strategy of active growth that envisages a capacity to receive big aircraft. We will be able to do that after we modernize the airport and the runway. According to my evaluations, modernization of the runway will be over in 2013-2014”, says Sergei Nakonechny.
In the meantime, the airport is diversifying to non-aviation kinds of activities. “In many airports of the world, 60-70% of profit comes from hotel services, advertising, catering, shops – and we are slowly moving in that direction”, comments Nakonechny.
Now that Ulyanovsk is an aviation capital, Ulyanovsk-Zentralny has no choice but to develop and increase its passenger flow and flight geography. In 2012, Ulyanovsk-Zentralny plans to make 2 flights per week to Sochi and negotiate the new flight to Saint-Petersburg – a long sought-after destination – with Ak Bars Aero on its 50-seat CRG-200.
“Although the regional airports with yearly passenger flow below 500,000 people are not regarded by business, we’re an exception: the size of our runway (3,826 m long and 60 m wide) allows receiving any type of aircraft. Secondly, we’re just 12 km away from the city. We’re on a crossroads of routes to Moscow, Syzran and Cheboksary. This is interesting in terms of constructing a logistics center and bus station that the governor wants to put near Ulyanovsk-Zentralny. And, the airport will be named after the citizen of Simbirsk, the renowned Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin”, concludes Sergei Nakonechny.
Transport aircraft: a federal priority and local legacy
Transport aircraft: a federal priority and local legacy
A key asset of Ulyanovsk as an aviation capital of Russia and, possibly, a future cargo hub is its expertise in manufacturing cargo jets, namely the famous An-124 Ruslan – the “star” of Aviastar-SP, the city-forming manufacturing enterprise, and the modernized Il-76. And, it’s not just manufacturing: the planned MRO environment in Ulyanovsk ASEZ envisages construction of hangars to service wide-body and ramp jets. Ulyanovsk is looking to provide all the necessary conditions to manufacture and service cargo jets, to attract new cargo carriers and logistic operators, and to raise its profile for its traditionally based carriers - Volga-Dnepr and Polet.
Aviastar-SP: stars won’t fall
Due to high demand for transport aircraft on today’s world market, the strategyof United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) envisages considerable growth in production of transport aircraft. And again, we arrive in Ulyanovsk, home of Aviastar-SP – company with unique expertise in production of transport jets in Russia. It is quite fair to say that Aviastar-SP is the star of Ulyanovsk aviation: founded in 1976 as Ulyanovsk Aviation Production Complex, it was a state-of-the-art Soviet aviation enterprise where the world largest military transport aircraft An-124 “Ruslan” were manufactured en masse till 1995.
Aviastar-SP is also part of civil aviation programs – Tu-204SM, the modernized Tu-204, and prospective new generation MS-21 – but experts expect that heavy transport jets will be the main products of Aviastar-SP by 2016. Currently, Aviastar’s main project in transport aviation is construction of the modernized version of Il-76 with 50 t cargo capacity, 850km/h speed, 6,000 km flight range, glass cabin with modern avionics, and ICAO-compliant engines. The modernized version of Il-76 is the main in the product line under the development strategy of Aviastar-SP, approved by UAC, till 2025. The second important product is An-124. Currently, Aviastar-SP is doing planned MRO of these jets for the Russian defense ministry and commercial customers. “Initially military transport jets, An-124 and Il-76 perform equally well for the needs of both military and civil customers”, notes Alexey Isaikin.
Technology is also keeping pace. Aviastar-SP is one of the Russian civil aircraft manufacturers that can build aircraft using digital technologies. For instance, the modernized Il-76 is the first aircraft designed digitally. To operate digital technologies, Aviastar-SP is buying more productive equipment by Japanese, German, Czech, French manufacturers since 2007. A related issue is providing corresponding training for the young specialists. Aviastar-SP has prepared a long-term cooperation program with Ulyanovsk, Kazan and Samara institutes and launched its own resource center in 2010 so that aviation college students could study state-of-the-art technologies and prepare to operate highly productive equipment.
An-124 Ruslan: the maestro of cargo waiting for rebirth
It was Ruslan, the giant sky truck, who flew Volga-Dnepr to its 20 years of world leadership in transport of extra heavy and unique cargo. Ruslan has no world analogs in terms of cargo capacity, flight range and price. Produced for the first time in 1982, its modifications – An-124-100 and An-124-100 M-150 – were produced in Kiev and Ulyanovsk till 1995. Ruslan is capable of transporting cargo weighing up to 150 t over 3,000+ km. In fact, Ruslan made its first – out of 28 – world record in 1985, when it took off with 171.2 t of cargo reaching 10,750 m (the previous U.S. record with S-5A was with 111.4 t at 2,000 m). Its modernized comeback is badly wanted: according to Volga-Dnepr, by 2030 the market of oversize cargo (“special logistics”, in the Group’s terminology) will reach US$7-8 billion. This will require new aircraft. Currently, Volga-Dnepr is operating 10 Ruslans that are not enough to cover the growing transport volumes of the Group.
Are there any prospects that An-124 production will be re-launched? Alexey Isaikin sounds positive: “Yes, our concerns were finally heard. We felt it was important to involve all the authorities in this project in this or that way and share the understanding of its strategic importance for all players. What is the most important for us at this stage? Russian defense ministry gave its conformation that they are ready to work with us as a civil airline so that the civil and the military version of the aircraft would have a single technological platform. United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has started negotiations for the terms and conditions of the contract. We also need serious cooperation with Ukraine – namely, with Antonov design bureau, and with the Ukrainian engine suppliers. I am glad that the current management of UAC has taken over the responsibility for all the participants of this project, and, hopefully, we will soon sign the contract. Aviastar-SP and other companies of the Ulyanovsk aviation cluster will be active participants in production and after-sale service. What is essential for us is that the aircraft will be reproduced in digital technologies”.
According to ICAO, aviation has a direct impact on economic development. €1 gained from aviation creates €3-5 in the neighboring industries. 1 working place in an airline creates 6 working places in the neighboring industries. The European countries give indirect support to their airlines in order to attract passenger flow that will influence the economic well-being of a certain region. It looks like Ulyanovsk was one of the first Russian regions to understand and catch this trend – long before president Medvedev announced that aviation is a federal priority and deputy prime minister Ivanov, a frequent guest of Ulyanovsk aviation cluster, said that aviation will drive the growth of Russian economy. Gediminas Žiemelis poses a rhetorical question here: why make multibillion investments in roads if you can make multimillion investments in aviation?
This report has been prepared and published in October 2011 after a series of on-site interviews with the key representatives of Ulyanovsk aviation cluster who have shared their insights with the dedicated team of www.russianavia.net.
Project director: Inam Khasanova (left)
Research and editorial: Maria Kolosanova (right)
Special thanks to: press service of the Governor of Ulyanovsk region and personally to Natalia Martynova and Vyacheslav Kobyalko.
We also thank James Waddell, Focus Reports, for adding a genuine British touch to the language.