Kutaisi Int’l Airport to Triple Its Capacity by the End of 2019

The long awaited and much delayed project to expand the Kutaisi Davit Aghmashenebeli International Airport finally has a due date – December 2019.

Over the weekend, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Akaki Saghirashvili visited the new terminal construction works in Kutaisi and checked its progress, accompanied by Ivane Lekishvili, Acting Director of the Georgian Airports Association.

A new passenger terminal is being constructed for Kutaisi International Airport that will be 24,176 square meters – more than three times larger than the current terminal. Saghirashvili told reporters on site that passenger flow through the airport is increasing daily. “We have already served 512,000 passengers in the past 10 months. 52% of them are foreign citizens, traveling to our country for tourism purposes, and the economic effect for the country, which is evaluated using a special standard, has already crossed the 110 million [dollars] mark. That is why the expansion of this airport is planned, and why new flights will be added.”

Saghirashvili recognized that as tourism grows, related infrastructure must develop in kind. He announced that all construction projects at the airport will be completed by the end of next year, including the internal transportation infrastructure.

In its current state, Kutaisi International Airport can accommodate 300 passengers an hour. With the addition of the new terminal, the airport will have seven gates and will be able to accommodate 1,000 – 1,100 passengers an hour. The airport is expecting one million passengers in 2020.

Kutaisi hosts one of the three international airports in Georgia, the other two being in Tbilisi and Batumi. It was opened in 2010 and underwent its first major renovation in 2011-2012. The small airport currently offers passengers a Duty-Free store and two coffee shops. It is rarely used for layovers. Passengers transiting to other parts of Georgia must rely on a few bus companies that regularly service the airport, or flag down a passing minibus. A railway station is being built in front of the terminal, which will connect the airport with Tbilisi, Batumi, and other Georgian cities, as well as leading onwards to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Since 2012, the airport has made attracting low-cost airlines a priority, which has proven to be a winning strategy, at least in the short term. Wizz Air entered the market in 2012, and links Kutaisi with more than a dozen European destinations.

The design team behind the extension, UN Studio, explains on their website that they “aimed to ensure a user-oriented experience where the health and comfort of every passenger is accommodated through architecture and spatial design.” The design of the original airport, completed in 2012 by UN Studio, was voted among the world’s 14 Most Beautiful Airports by online real estate network Curbed.

Earlier this month, the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency reported that passenger traffic at all three of Georgia’s international airports was up 23% year-on-year in the period from January to October 2018. Serving 512,386 passengers, Kutaisi International Airport saw the biggest increase with 39%.

More than 8 million tourists have visited Georgia so far this year, an increase of 27.9% from the same period of 2017. Georgia is currently the fourth fastest growing tourist destination in the world in terms of year-on-year percentage increase of visitors.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: UNStudio

12 November 2018 16:43