Autumn 2021

Upgrading Samarkand Airport

At the heart of a major upgrade of Samarkand Airport’s airside facilities is Enter Engineering, one of Central Asia’s largest construction companies. Rustam Khaidarov, deputy general director for construction of industrial and civil facilities at Enter, tells Airside about the project to improve Uzbekistan’s second-busiest air gateway in preparation for an expected significant growth in passenger numbers

What has Enter Engineering been asked to do in terms of the development of the airport’s airside areas?

The redevelopment of Samarkand Airport, first built in 1967, includes the construction of 24 parking stand areas – which will accommodate all types of aircraft. Construction of the new, improved parking stand areas is now 95% complete.

While Enter’s activity has not included reconstructing runways, construction of a new runway is now 80% complete, while the overall project is also now 80% complete.

How has Enter gone about fulfilling its responsibilities for this project?

Enter Engineering’s team of highly qualified specialists has significant, successful experience executing complex projects to tight deadlines. This experience guided the formation of a unit directly responsible for project implementation, plus specialised units across the full construction process.

Enter’s main priorities have been working to tight deadlines and ensuring designs meet high international standards. Special attention has been paid to a competitive selection of materials/equipment suppliers, and construction services – to comply with industry standards and to guarantee quality.

Compliance with occupational health and safety, fire safety, environmental protection and industrial sanitation has also been of the highest priority – with an ISO 9001 compliant quality management system in use. Training (basic and advanced), and the certification of employees, has also been organised.

Throughout the project we have worked closely with leading, international partners, including Kiklop, a Turkish design and architecture firm and PSK Brig OOO, a Russian civil construction company.

How has Enter managed the process, and what has that entailed?

Throughout the project Enter Engineering has acted as an EPCM [engineering, production and construction management] contractor, providing design, supply, construction and commissioning works, plus project management.

Given the tight deadlines, the design and placement of orders for the supply of the main equipment had to be made in parallel.

Over 80% of the work has been carried out by the company’s own resources. This has saved time by eliminating the need to select and mobilise subcontractors.

The main stages of the project have taken in:

Development of the project implementation plan
Basic modelling, project development, resource assessment and project implementation
Design, specifications, and selection of building materials/equipment
Mobilising human and technical resources
Implementation of ORAT (operational readiness and airport transfer) – an ORAT programme asks airlines to scope their requirements, make plans and prepare for operations, and manage progress as part of a project to open or develop an airport facility
Preparation of the construction site
Construction and installation works, equipment installation and commissioning
Testing of systems operability and complex testing of the facility as a whole, plus further commissioning

And what will be the resulting change in capacity (and/or efficiency) for the airport?

When complete, the airport’s capacity will increase from 350 to 1,000 passengers per hour, while potential passenger traffic will increase from 460,000 to 2 million people per year, and scheduled flight capacity will rise from 40 to 120 per week.

Has this engineering project presented any particular challenges? If so, how have they been overcome?

Unsurprisingly, our greatest challenge was the pandemic and global measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus. This affected the supply of materials and equipment, access of qualified personnel into Uzbekistan, and project timings. However, we took several effective measures to mitigate the worst effects and restrictions. This has allowed us to meet our construction deadlines.

For example, we implemented an action plan to prevent and reduce the risk of infection of project workers. This included the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), measuring the temperature of employees, good hand hygiene practices and training personnel in infection prevention and control. We also introduced a quarantine system to manage any workers suspected of being infected, and their supervision by qualified medical personnel.

Has Enter Engineering previously overseen work at Samarkand – or at any other airports in Uzbekistan or elsewhere?

Enter Engineering is one of Central Asia’s largest engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies and to date has completed 32 industrial and civil construction projects worth a total of US$2.5 billion. This includes the construction of Humo Arena Multifunctional Ice Complex project in Tashkent, and a specialised 5,000-bed multi-disciplinary medical complex for Covid-19 patients.

Enter is also a contractor on a huge GTL (gas to liquids) plant [in the Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan], which is now 95% complete. The project is one of the most capital-intensive investment projects in Uzbekistan and in Central Asia, with a total cost of US$3.6 billion.

The redevelopment of Samarkand Airport is Enter’s first aviation project. Simultaneously, Enter is undertaking construction of the Samarkand Tourism Center.

This large, 212-hectare tourism cluster is intended for domestic and international tourism and is anticipated to host next year’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. Both projects are of national importance, and will contribute to the expansion of Uzbekistan’s travel, transport and tourism infrastructure.

When are the improvements to Samarkand Airport (including work undertaken by Enter Engineering) expected to be fulfilled, and what will that mean for the gateway and for Uzbekistan?

The redevelopment of Samarkand International Airport is set for completion in September 2021. The new facility will have the capacity to cope with increased numbers of domestic and international travellers. It will also create jobs and increase tax revenues for Uzbekistan.

For tourists, it will help them form positive first impressions of the country, encouraging them to spread positive news about why to visit Uzbekistan. Tourists can be domestic visitors too, so it encourages our own citizens to travel across their own country. This is good socially and economically.

Airports also connect trade, both business executives travelling and companies shipping cargo. Larger, more efficient airports make foreign direct investment (FDI) easier, which encourages commerce and provides access to valuable foreign currencies. All of this will have a positive net effect.

As Uzbekistan invests in its airport infrastructure and tourism and strengthens its international links, a newly redeveloped Samarkand International Airport will play a transformational role in Uzbekistan (and Samarkand’s) growth and development.