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102 www. bus- ex. com November 09

Zvartnots International Airport November 09 www. bus- ex. com 103 feared that in the event of a similar quake happening at Yerevan, up to 80 per cent of its existing buildings would be at risk. Not the new airport though, which is leading the way in earthquake- proof construction. Improving security to comply with international regulations has also been a priority. Now there are many more trained security personnel at the airport, up- to- date baggage screening and 150 surveillance cameras both inside and outside the buildings. " We are also creating parking for a further 700 cars, and that will be ready by December of next year," he says. Travellers from Europe and America will find all the refinements they are used to- for example, all the buildings now have Wi- Fi connections; automated check- in takes the time out of boarding; and biometric processes have been installed that make many European airports look old- fashioned. " You just scan your fingerprint when you arrive at the airport and after that it is simple to make sure that the people boarding the aeroplanes are who they say they are!" Other technology includes a state- of- the-art flight information display system ( FIDS). In addition, the airport now has new facilities for passengers including duty- free shopping, relaxation areas and some excellent restaurants. The airport has been gaining valuable revenue from these sources, as well as from advertising displays and parking, and soon expects the income from them to surpass that generated from the airlines. Precisely what will happen to the original circular building, designed in 1985 by the Armenian state construction enterprise now known as ArmProject, has not yet been decided. However, the building is a landmark and will undoubtedly be retained, promises Wende. No doubt it will lend itself to entertainment or conference uses in the future. The gains to Armenia from the airport are massive, Wende concludes. Technology transfer here and at the AIA's Shirak airport near Gyumri is only part of the story: the company has also invested in a 2,000 hectare farm, where it has improved conditions for the workforce, bringing water to whole communities, building schools and contributing to church projects. " We like to think we are a committed and socially responsible contributor to the economy as well as running a profitable business that generates large amounts of foreign exchange." - Editorial research by Don Campbell / Yohan Jayasooriya Europe visiting their motherland now that more carriers are flying in and they begin to invest, buy flats here and build businesses." The traditional traffic between Armenia, Russia and the CIS states will also increase, he predicts, as income levels rise. Following completion of the two mile asphalt runway, more than 34 airlines now fly to 60 destinations around the world from Zvartnots. Construction of a new 19,200 square metre international terminal began in 2004, at a cost of $ 100 million. The first phase of the improvements, completed in 2005, upgraded the runway and runway lighting system at the airport. In addition, the drainage system was also renovated, along with the electricity substation. An important investment was also made in heavy- duty vehicles. The arrivals hall was opened in 2006 and the departure lounge in the summer of 2007, and the airport is already handling 1.5 million passengers every year. " When the new terminal is complete, we will more than double that capacity. Even though 3.2 million passengers doesn't bring it to anything like the 70 million handled at London Heathrow for example, it is a huge step forward for Armenia, and the experience of travelling through will be much pleasanter," Wende promises. The new terminal he refers to, due to open in the summer of 2011, will increase the overall terminal space to 52,000 square metres. The total investment for this phase is $ 160 million. Started only in 2008, much of the structural work is already complete, he says. " The steel structure will be finished in March 2010 and the building completely enclosed by August." The building will be entirely wrapped in glass, giving it an aetherial beauty. " And this design is especially environmentally friendly," Wende adds. " It incorporates specially designed windows to keep the building cool in the summer and retain heat in the winter, cutting down our energy use." The building is being constructed with loans from the European Reconstruction and Development Bank ( ERDB), the German Investment Development Company: DEG and others, so the environmental requirements are very high. Importantly, both buildings are built on seismic isolators, along principles developed in New Zealand and employed in Los Angeles. Yerevan is in a seismically active zone: in 1988 an earthquake destroyed much of north- western Armenia, killing more than 25,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of others homeless, and it is " We expect that once the facilities are there we will see a huge increase in Armenian tourists from the USA and Europe"