Exclusive Interview of Pavlo Ryabikin, Boryspil Airport CEO, with the Interfax-Ukraine Agency (Part I)
Question: Tell us briefly about your work experience. How it was connected with the transport industry, aviation?
If we talk about historical connection, in 1990, I started my professional career as a lawyer, and my clients applied for a contract that at that time had no analogues. It was a contract of purchase of a new Il-86 aircraft by private individuals from the Voronezh Aircraft Plant. This was the first transaction in the history of the USSR when a new aircraft was sold not to a state-owned airline, but to a private owner. That was the time when I first encountered aviation.
Over the next five years, I had to accompany the fate of this aircraft, which for a long time flew in Transaero Airlines, became its board number two, and was sold to Aeroflot in the mid-90s. Subsequently, the owners of the aircraft created the company "Express Avia" in the UAE, which began operating as a freight carrier. At that time, there was a large volume of so-called sack shipments of consumer goods from the Emirates to the CIS countries.
As a result, I was invited to the company as a director of financial and legal issues, and I was engaged in its activities in terms of financing the restoration of airworthiness. At that time, many IL aircrafts were actually lifted from under the fence, brought to a normal state and operated on the lines of the Middle East, East Asia or Africa.
Later, I worked in the aviation industry as a manager. From 2005 to 2006, I worked as Deputy Minister of Transport. Back then, there was the branch principle of appointments, and I was in charge of aviation and fleet. Working as Deputy Minister, I first became acquainted with the problems of Boryspil Airport and with its specifics, supervised the preparation of a general development plan. The general plan was submitted to the government committee for consideration, successfully passed it, but another change of government brought all our efforts to naught.
Now, having come to Boryspil, I have to do the same - after 12 years, we again talk about the general plan, that we need to transfer the documents into the category of urban planning documentation.
Also, I have experience of work in the parliament in the Transport Committee.
Question: Is there a position, or a place of work from the past, where you would like to return to?
I thought about what I would like. I am not the kind of person who looks back. I think that we need to look for ourselves in the future and implement any ideas, not tied to what opportunities were implemented or missed in the past. No, every person has his own way of life, so there is no doubt and no regret. There is a slight fatigue from politics, which, in general, spurred to the desire to go into the real sector of the economy and became one of the motivating factors when I have decided to participate in the competition for the Head of Boryspil. At that moment, the political situation stimulated me. There was a desire to do something with my own hands, taking into account the experience. Politics often needs a fresh look at things, and sometimes one has to give way to someone younger, to someone who sees the situation from a different angle than you after 10-15 years of presence in it. On the other hand, having political experience, sometimes you see the problems of an enterprise in a different way. This is useful in implementing a number of projects.
Question: That is, the decision to take part in the competition was your personal, there were no requests?
No. It was my decision. At that time, I just left on my own initiative from the Kyiv City State Administration, I had a difficult period in the family. Later, when I had free time, competitions were held. Financial motivation also played a role, because there appeared completely different opportunities, in terms of obtaining an adequate wage for my work. This is also a strong stimulating factor.
Question: When deciding on participation in competitions, did you consider other enterprises?
I understood the activities of both air transport enterprises and seaports, but, unfortunately, Kyiv is very far from the sea, the roots and the family are here, and for me, Boryspil is preferable in this respect. I’m a Kyivan, strongly attached to the city. As an adviser to the mayor, I actively work with the city administration. These components did not allow me to look beyond Kyiv.
Question: After going through the competition and taking the post of the Head of the Airport, what problems did you immediately see in its activity?
I understood that Boryspil over the past three years has achieved phenomenal growth of all indicators, starting from the passenger turnover, which now beats records, to the financial indicators that are derived from the growth in the passenger traffic. Not stopping at what has been achieved, but rather increasing success - that, in my opinion, is a serious challenge for the manager who came at such a time.
First of all, my attention was drawn to the problems and inconveniences that I had faced earlier as a passenger: discomfort in the dealings with the staff; certain discomfort associated with insufficient quality of the premises; discomfort associated with those defects that were incorporated in the project solution when creating terminal D.
For today, we have a terminal, in which one-third of passengers is transit, but transit technology was not provided even by the project specification. And now, we have to look for a solution how to improve it in such a way that the transit area and service technology of transit passengers were more humane and convenient, so that people would not stand in long lines because the corresponding area has not been provided.
Question: How can it be done?
This is a whole complex of measures that we are already implementing. First, this is a physical expansion of the transit area, an extension of about 1 thousand square meters in the transit area, which will allow us to make the passage of the aviation security control area more convenient, plus will expand the waiting area and the commercial area of the airport.
Second, this is a corresponding increase in the acceptance rate. We see an increase in transit, and we need to increase it, because terminal D has an acceptance rate of 15 million passengers a year, but it is distributed very unevenly by seasons and by time of day, by peaks. There is a situation where our capacity is limited to 22 departures per hour. Therefore, the next infrastructure project in this vein is the construction of new gates for servicing passengers through the "bus option", which will let us increase the acceptance rate to 27 departures per hour and will relieve the period of peak loads during the next year.
In turn, this entails the need to increase the acceptance rate of the baggage handling system. It will be necessary to place a second transfer line, a new baggage claim area for domestic airlines, expand the arrival areas for international flights.
Then, we have a clear trend of growth in passenger traffic in the last two years. We understand that transit is our future, and we need to increase the apron area directly near terminal D. When we talk about the handling of a transit passenger, we must understand that if the aircraft has arrived to a distant apron, while the passenger arrives at the terminal, passes formalities, gets on the next flight, it will take a long time. Transit passengers are to be serviced in close proximity to the terminal. Thus, it is necessary to increase the area of the platform parking at the terminal. And this is our next project, which is already undergoing an examination, and in the near future we will put it on the tender.
The competitiveness of the transit hub is determined by the transit time. To compete with the nearest transit hubs, which are Istanbul, Warsaw, Moscow hub, Prague, Vienna, we must switch to the standard of 40-45 minutes for a transit.
Question: In view of a number of new projects, tell me if you have a clear vision of the future of the existing terminals B and F?
I really want to believe that we will need them. Now they are kept in a preservation. Terminal B is reopened for the period of the "Hasidic program", and terminal F needs a certain intensive cure program. We prepared it, calculated it. It is possible to transfer individual carriers there that fly point-to-point. We plan its reopening when we will have about 15 daily departures of classical airlines; taking into account budget carriers this figure should reach 24-25 flights per day. For the next year, the capabilities of the terminal D are sufficient. All its projects I listed above should have a three-year implementation cycle, the gallery expansion - about four years.
And, of course, our famous parking - a monument to buried investments. We should obtain the results of a two-level selection of a contractor for it in early June. We divided this project into two start-up lines. The first one - 1 thousand parking slots, the second one - with the same area; but in the course of rethinking the purpose of parking, we are considering the possibility of placing a bus station in it. Probably, in the second line, we could do this. This parking was built with excess capacity reserves.
Question: Hasn't the current unfinished structure lost its bearing capacity?
Before completing the project, we conducted an examination, analysed the state of the structure - it's sad. Not because there is something broken, but because of the large amount of hack-work, poor quality of the main welded seams, improper mounting. There was an impression that they were in a hurry to implement the budget, and now we will not be forced to finish it, but we will have to rebuild it. In some parts, the quantity of non-welded seams reaches 90% - they tacked it, and it holds “on spit and bailing wire”.
If we demolished it now and constructed an open parking lot in these areas, we would have received the number of parking slots we need. But the cost of demolishing is comparable to the cost of completion.
Question: Going back to all the projects you mentioned, what is the expected amount of funding they will require?
For now, I do not know the approximate cost of the gallery, the apron - about 1 billion UAH, parking - 400 million UAH, transit area - 120 million UAH, small projects - 100 million UAH. The gallery can cost about 1.5 billion UAH. These are still the estimated figures.
Question: There was one more project, about which your present First Deputy Yevhenii Dykhne spoke about - cargo hub. Do you support this idea?
Cargo turnover does not grow as fast as we would like, but, nevertheless, it shows dynamics. Therefore, the existing capabilities of the cargo complex will allow us to work in the current mode for another two to three years without any problems. In three years, a fundamentally new element of the cargo infrastructure must appear there, which will allow us to increase capacity at times. As one of the solutions, here we see an investment project. Since the effective cargo activity is provided by those who have their own cargo flows, some operator must come.
At the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure, we prepared the initial documentation for the investment project, to attract the investor. At the same time, we are looking for a solution in case there is no way to find an investor, how we will bring this cargo complex in line with the requirements of today. For now, we are considering different options: from the location of a completely new terminal on the land of the airport, to the reconstruction of the existing facilities.
Question: Thus, the idea of re-equipment of the terminal F into cargo terminal is not considered?
I think that of the two frozen terminals, terminal F is not suitable for this. It was built to service passengers, so I do not understand how to re-equip it, how to use its second floor for cargoes? Yes, and I'm sorry for it, it can serve passengers, and I think that this will be in the future, in particular, servicing point-to-point transportations. I do not consider the possibility of its re-equipment into a cargo terminal.
But as to terminal B, its fate will depend a lot on which scheme of the master plan will be approved, in which area it will be. Sometimes, there are unexpected ideas. The other day, the investors came who offered to make there a call centre for 4 thousand jobs. In principle, as an idea, why not? Everything is possible.