Narva pondering airport development plan (1)

Narva border crossing between Estonia and Russia. (RIA Novosti/Scanpix)
10/6/2015 9:04 AM
Category: Economy

Estonia's third largest town Narva, and the neighboring municipality Vaivara, are hatching a plan to open an airport, with money the top obstacle currently.

The Olgina airfield is next to Narva, but it only has a grass-covered landing field and is able to accept aircraft weighing up to five tons. The airfield is currently used only by parachutists, but the potential is there.

Former PM and EC Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said a few months ago at a seminar in Tallinn that Estonia's next big infrastructure invest should be to build a logistics center in Ida-Viru County, and develop the local airport there.

Vadim Orlov, the head of the Narva Logistics and Industrial Park, said that an air connection to Narva, which is a 2-3 hour drive from Tallinn, would bring in investors.

“For me, as a representative of an industrial park, it would be a very important argument to attract investors. I have a concrete example in a Ukraine investor, who wanted to set up a company with 150 employees in Narva, but due to a lack of an airport, decided for Tallinn instead. The investor valued fast air connections, and Narva could not offer that,” Orlov said.

Orlov said that a Narva airport should have an international passenger handling capability.

He added that Finland has built an airport in Lappeenranta, near the Russian border, and now many Russians fly to Europe through Finland, as there are few cheap flights from Russia.

He said that Narva politicians are skeptical at best, adding that many are short-sighted when it comes to air travel.

If an agreement between local politicians and businessmen could be reached, then basic construction can be completed in a few years, Orlov added.

Veiko Luhalaid, the head of Vaivavara municipality, the location of the Olgina airfield, said that economic activity in the region is great with a number of industrial parks popping up, in cooperation with the Port of Sillamäe and Eesti Energia. He said there will be situations in the future when an airport is necessary.

Luhalaid said there are security concerns too, and an airstrip could be used by firefighting planes in case of a forest fire.

He added that a detailed plan would be stage one, but finance would be a tough obstacle to tackle.

J.M. Laats

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