In honor of the day, we collected the most interesting facts about the work of the main air harbor of the peninsula.
And aircrafts flew to all the corners of the USSR
Simferopol Airport "was born" in 1936, 18 kilometers northwest from the Crimean Capital. Initially, only medium aircraft were allowed to be serviced and only during the daytime. The first flight from Simferopol departed on May 1 exactly on schedule − at 5 o'clock 20 minutes a.m. The aircraft took passengers to Moscow. Air travel time was 12 hours. Following the flights to the capital, flights to other cities of the immense country were opened.
In pre-war years, the technical staff of the airport consisted of several people. There were neither means of mechanization, nor special equipment. The airplanes were filled from a 200 liter barrel, which was pulled on a cart. And the oil was carried in buckets.
At the very beginning of 1941, an aviation company appeared on the basis of the airport − a separate section of the special project of local air lines and sanitary aviation. For the aircraft pool, airplanes were brought from Saratov, Penza and Rostov.
Through the flame of war
The Great Patriotic War became a harsh page in the history of Simferopol Airport. On June 22, 1941, the entire staff of the air hub was raised on the alarm, the commercial flights were cancelled, and the red stars were put on the planes. Soon the special Black Sea air cargo carrier, made up of the civil air line section, began to operate on the basis of the airport. Employees of the air harbor made an invaluable contribution to the fight against the enemy: transportation in the rear, evacuation of civil and military from the occupied regions, supply of partisans and the sieged cities with ammunition and medicines…
After the liberation of Crimea, the air hub began to return to a peaceful life: July 15, 1944, an order was issued about its reestablishment. Two years later, passenger aviation communication with other regions of the Union was resumed. At first, two flights to Moscow were opened: one straight line (the flight time was 5.5 hours), the second with intermediate landings in Zaporozhyeh and Kharkov (7.5 hours). In addition, the aircraft flew five intracrimean routes. In total, the first post-war year, Simferopol Airport dispatched 8.5 thousand passengers.
And this is despite the fact that the post-war life of the airport was severe. The necessary infrastructure was practically absent. As an airport, a small Finnish wooden house was used, in which there was a room for passengers, a dispatchers’ room and kitchen. The first permanent building of the Airport in the postwar years was built in 1957. Eventually, the apron, ground and then concrete runway, lighting equipment appeared there. Air harbor aircraft park consisted of Ils, Ans, Tus and other makes of aircraft. Then appeared Mi-4 helicopters. As early as in the 1960s, the air harbor began to receive and dispatch flights around the clock.
The origin of aero-tourism
Civil aviation in Crimea is developing in all aspects. For example, the first regular tourist helicopter line in the Soviet Union appeared on the peninsula. It was launched on November 20, 1958 and joined Simferopol to Yalta. Passengers were carried by Mi-4 helicopter. The flight lasted 25 minutes.
This air taxi existed in Crimea a few years. And after it was revived periodically. Today, you can fly in a helicopter over the peninsula again. For those who want − air transport and excursions. Price for one trip depends on the make of a helicopters, the number of passengers (from 3 to 10 people) and flight time (25 minutes). Price starts from 25 thousand rubles (about $ 330). During the tour you can see the bird's-eye view of ancient cities, famous castles, mountain ranges, and other landmarks.
Across the borders
Airport began to serve international flights in 1961. The first was the route between Simferopol and Varna. Nine years later, the Intourist passenger terminal was put into operation.
Gradually, the route network with foreign countries expanded. So, in 1980 the airport received 100 thousand foreign passengers, and in 1986 – even 260 thousand. The airlines connected Crimea with London, Berlin, Leipzig, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Dresden, Prague, Helsinki, Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Varna, Aden (Yemen), Maputo (Mozambique).
Post-perestroika time has become an ordeal for the airport. Immediately after 1991, the air hub faced a sharp decline in passenger traffic. Only in one year it decreased by more than 3 times − up to 1.6 million people. And from 1993 to the 2003 the airport served no more than 500 thousand people annually.
Despite this, the airport continued to develop: a new terminal was built, the air hub building was renovated, VIP and business lounges opened. At the beginning of this century, passenger traffic began to grow again. And in 2013, the airport received and dispatched 1.2 million passengers, becoming third airport in Ukraine with more than a million passenger flow.
Successes of the Crimean Wave
After the reunion of Crimea with Russia, a new round of the airport development began. The 2014 was marked by a sharp increase in passenger traffic − 2.8 million people. To create the most comfortable conditions for passengers, it was decided to make a full reconstruction of the airport and airfield, and later − to build a new terminal. It, by the way, became a real masterpiece of modern architecture. As the basis of the architectural concept of the terminal, designers took the bends of a sea wave. Thanks to its skyline, the new building got the name Crimean Wave. It received first passengers on April 16, 2018.
It took 22 months to construct a terminal of 78 thousand square meters. It is capable to serve 3.6 thousand passengers an hour. The serving capacity can be increased to 11 million passengers per year by adding to the terminal more of loading galleries with telescopic loading bridges. On the territory of the Crimean Wave there are 55 registration desks, 8 exits to the bus platform, 16 escalators, 28 elevators. The infrastructure is also designed to maintain international flights. For them there are: a separate waiting lounge, departure gates, premises for a restaurant, cafés and a Duty Free shop.
Today the airport continues to actively develop, increasing passenger traffic and taking new heights in its efficiency. So, last year it served more than 6.8 million passengers, receiving and dispatching over 42 thousand regular flights. The route network of the airlines expanded to 64 destinations − this is the maximum indicator in the modern history of the air hub. The five most popular destinations are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan.
The name of thee is Aivazovsky
On May 31, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree by which Simferopol airport was awarded the name of the great son of Theodosia, the seascape painter Ivan Aivazovsky. The names for the Crimean air harbor and for 46 others was chosen within the framework of the Great Names of Russia project. It was people’s voting.
Later, in 2020, a bust of the great seascape painter was installed on the square in front of the Simferopol air hub, facing the new terminal. In his hands the master holds a brush and a palette. The height of the monument is 3.5 meters, weight is more than 4 tons.
So today the name of Ivan Aivazovskiy is inseparably linked with the Crimean Wave. He meets tourists, arriving on the peninsula every day from all over our huge country, and after he sees them off, adds to the architectural beauty of the new terminal as if "drawing" it with his immortal brush every day.
And what else
- May 19, 1982 Simferopol airport was the first in the USSR that received a wide-body jumbo-jet IL-86.
- For the first time in the USSR security service that meets all international standards appeared in the Crimean aviation harbor. It started working on November 1, 1989.
- In 2004, the airport organized its own unit of service dogs. Today there are more than 10 dogs of various breeds. They know how to search explosives, weapons and ammunition. A mascot of the air harbor is a border collie Alice, who, by the way, in 2018 first stepped into the new terminal building.
- In 2018 the baggage handling system was installed at the airport. For the first time in the modern history it was completely designed and manufactured in Russia. The system meets the latest international standards.
- In Simferopol Airport is Russia's only open-air terrace with the view of the apron. It is located on the fourth floor. In good weather it offers a scenic view of Mount Chatyr-Dag.
- There is also a wall of plants inside the building, the biggest in Europe. The design of the live and the artificial plant covers an area of nearly 1,600 square meters (15x110 m) and is located on the first floor of the complex.
- Over the 86-year history of the Simferopol airport served a lot of famous people: leaders of different countries, politicians, stars of show business… Among them: Leonid Brezhnev, Richard Nixon, Nicolae Ceausescu, Vladimir Putin, Nikolai Baskov, Oleg Gazmanov, Igor Nikolayev, Demis Roussos and many others.