Modernizing Arctic aviation infrastructure among recommendations at Russian meeting

Attendees at Russia’s Council of the Arctic and Antarctic meeting this month. Programs to retain aviation professionals in the Arctic and Far East were among the recommendations. (Government of Yakutia)
Better aviation infrastructure and improvement of the airfield network in Russia’s Arctic and Far East were among the recommendations discussed at Russia’s Council for the Arctic and Antarctic meeting last week.

Representatives from all of Russia’s Arctic regions participated along with representatives of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation.

Improved transport networks will be key to developing the North, with representatives saying the lack of infrastructure, as well as qualified aviation professionals in the region, continued to impede economic development.

Subsidies needed for domestic transportation

A number of recommendations were put forward at the meeting said a news release posted on the website of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), a region in northwestern Russia, on July 17.

“The development of transportation is one of the basic conditions for the development of the Arctic zone,” the news release said. 

Proposals included:
  • subsidy program for domestic regional transportation
  • timetable for the renewal of aircraft fleets in the Arctic
  • creation of aviation training centers in the North and Far East to keep trained aviation professionals in the region
  • develop airfield network and modernization of aviation infrastructure in the Arctic

The meeting also called for more investment in development in the small air craft network that increasingly services the remote regions of the Russia’s Arctic and Far East.

“The inadequacy of the ground transport infrastructure system in the Arctic territories can be effectively compensated by the development of small aircraft, whose share is 80% of traffic within the Arctic regions,” the news release said.

However, the development of air communication in the Arctic regions requires an interdepartmental approach to the situation and significant funding. There are acute problems of modernization and construction of new ground infrastructure, the need to increase subsidies for local air transportation, and the lack of qualified personnel.”

Anadyr, the administrative centre of Chukotka, an Arctic region located in Russia’s Far East. Better air links are seen as key to boosting economic development in places like this, a meeting heard this month. (iStock)
Recommendations off to Russian Federation for consideration

Aisen Nikolaev, Yakutia’s governor, said building the domestic regional transportation network should be done with domestically made Russian aircraft, instead of foreign-made planes, in order to keep money in the region.

“We must support our industry and domestic aviation,” Nikolaev said.  “I’m convinced that the Arctic, the North and the Far East should be serviced by our Russian aircraft.” 

The recommendations from the meeting have now been sent to the Russian Federation for consideration.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Air links between Canada, Alaska, Greenland & Siberia could be building blocks for economic development says Quebec Inuit leader, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: EU Boeing aircraft ban affects Norwegian Airlines flights in Helsinki, Yle News

Iceland: Canadian couple among stranded passengers after Icelandic budget airline WOW Air folds, CBC News

Norway: Longer runway for bigger planes in Kirkenes, northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: No more direct flights between northwest Russia’s two largest cities, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Scandinavian Airlines and pilots union reach agreement to end strike, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska Airlines adds restrictions on emotional support animals, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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