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Russia's Largest Airport to Boost Capacity 50% as Industry Struggles

Sheremetyevo is growing even as the government cuts funding for the development of Russia’s regional airport infrastructure amid a swelling budget crisis.

Russia's largest airport, Moscow's Sheremetyevo, plans to expand its capacity by nearly 45 percent through 2017, the airport's CEO Mikhail Vasilenko said Tuesday, news agency Interfax reported.

The revamp will boost Sheremetyevo's capacity from 33.5 million to 48.5 million passengers a year, Vasilenko said.

This expanded capacity will come from the new, 100,000-square-meter Terminal B that is to be built where its 50-year-old predecessor now stands, the company said.

Sheremetyevo has grown rapidly over the past decade, nearly tripling its capacity since beginning an ambitious expansion program in 2005.

Its expansion comes as Russians' spending on foreign travel falls sharply, hitting both domestic and foreign carriers. Russian airlines are axing more than 70 international routes, news agency RBC reported in March, and foreign airliners such as EasyJet and Germanwings are also cutting Russia-bound flights from their schedules.

Sheremetyevo is growing even as the government cuts funding for the development of Russia's regional airport infrastructure amid a swelling budget crisis.

Deputy Transportation Minister Valery Okulov said last week that federal spending this year on the development of regional airport infrastructure would be cut by 28 billion rubles ($506 million) due to the "difficult economic situation," Interfax reported.

The Russian government owns a majority share of about 83 percent in Sheremetyevo Airport.

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