Bălţi International Airport (IATA: BZY, ICAO: LUBL), also known as Bălţi-Leadoveni International Airport is one of the two airports serving the city of Bălţi, Moldova. Located 15 km (9 miles) north of the city center (or 9 km from the city limits, Dacia district), in the north of the country, it is the second largest airport of Moldova, servicing cargo and charter passengers flights. Another airport in the area, Bălţi City Airport, located within the city limits, is primarily used for emergency interventions of regional importance.
The Bălţi International Airport is situated in the northern part of the former Bălţi County (judeţ in Romanian), on the land of the commune of Corlăteni (called Leadoven during the Soviet time) in Râşcani district.
Bălţi International Airport can be easily accessed by car, exiting Bălţi in the northern direction, and following the highway E583. Numerous coaches and minibuses used for public transportation connecting Bălţi to the northern districts of Moldova stop upon request at the highway-airport access junction.
The construction of infrastructure for Bălţi International Airport started in 1970s-1980s, in accordance with the project of the Central Architectural Bureau. After the official opening in late 1980s, the airport was operated by airplanes from Chişinău of the former Moldavian branch of the Soviet Aeroflot company. At that time, it was called Bălţi-Leadoveni International Airport.
Since 1980s, Bălţi International Airport became the most important airport in the north of Moldova. After the independence of Moldova in 1991, the airport was used by Air Moldova, the state company successor of the remaining airplanes of Aeroflot.
According to the former plans, it was planned to build two terminals, one for passenger and another for cargo service, as well as one control tower. Before the break-up of the USSR, the airport was connected, through direct flights, to almost 20 destinations in the former Soviet Union, including Moscow, Kiev, and Sochi.
Bălţi International Airport used to be a home base for Tu-134 and Tu-154 passenger jets.
For cargo, different modifications of Antonov jets have used the runway.
The state company S.A. "Moldaeroservice", part of the national S.A. "Moldaeroservice" holding, is the operator of Bălţi International Airport.
As Moldova was experiencing economic crisis in the 1990s, the re-construction and modernization plans of the airport, as well as the whole aviation industry, were put on hold. Only in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Chişinău International Airport was modernized, with help from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Chişinău International Airport is today the only airport in Moldova operated by regular passenger and cargo routes (about 65% of which are exclusively by Air Moldova)
Bălţi International Airport is currently used mainly by irregular charter passenger, and more often by cargo flights. Because of the current economic reality in Moldova and state management, Bălţi International Airport cannot boast to be a busy airport. There are no regular connections to the airport today. In between rare flights, the runway serves for Moldavian rallies and open air concerts, such as ones organized by the mobile operator Orange Moldova.
The new role for the Bălţi International Airport could be a first hub for low-cost airlines (e.g. EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air) in Moldova and in the whole SW Europe region, since the airport in Chişinău remains under State control of Air Moldova.
One third of all passengers on the daily route Chişinău-Frankfurt am Main come from Bălţi and the northern districts of Moldova. Passengers from the north of the country are also flying to other destinations, e.g. to Italy (Rome, Milan, Bologna), Spain (Madrid), Portugal (Lisbon), Russia (Moscow), the United Kingdom (London), Turkey (Antalya), and they currently use the airport in Chişinău. A new route to London, proposed by Air Moldova from Chişinău (the only airport where Air Moldova flies from), takes up to 6 hours, with a stop in Paris, whereas the normal flight between such destinations takes up to 3 hours. The Chişinău-Frankfurt am Main route was an object of harsh negotiations between Lufthansa and Air Moldova, just as the route Chişinău-Kiev. In both cases, German, respectively Ukrainian civil aviation authorities banned Air Molodva from their territories until Moldova would abide to a fair share of traffic with German (Lufthansa) and Ukrainian (Aerosvit Airlines) airlines, and as soon as Air Moldova let a German company (Cirrus Airlines) operate flights to Moldova, Air Moldova was allowed to resume its flights into the German sky.
Important development perspectives appear for Bălţi International Airport also in the cargo field, which would generate economic growth for the whole northern region of Moldova, but even possibly for the neighboring regions of Ukraine and Romania. The region boasts yearly a 8% GDP growth, and real estate investment projects in Bălţi on the part of Western European businesses suhc as Metro Cash & Carry are some of the growth factors.
The geographic position of Bălţi International Airport is internationally important as well, as the next airports in Romania (Iaşi International Airport) and Ukraine (Czernovitz), and especially in Moldova (Chişinău) are competitive and economically viable only because of credit subventions and strong state protectionism, and much less through normal economic factors.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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