YAKUTSK, April 2 (RIA Novosti) – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday he will order the reopening of a remote airport which served as the only winter transport link to the most northerly town in Russia.
The Defense Ministry-owned airport in Tiksi, which has around 6,000 permanent residents, was closed on October 1 for reconstruction after officials ruled it was unfit to accept flights. Travel to and from the town is currently only possible by helicopter.
“They made a real mistake here, putting under threat the existence of the whole town,” Medvedev said on Tuesday at a meeting of the ruling United Russia party in the Sakha republic.
Medvedev said he will order the Defense Ministry’s new leadership to reinstall equipment at the airport which would allow it to accept regular flights by An-24 turboprop airliners.
Reconstruction of the airport’s 1,750 meter (5,775 feet) runway is due to begin next year and is to be completed in 2015.
The Russian government has started a program to revive local aviation services, which have collapsed in the post-Soviet era, leaving hundreds of communities effectively without contact with the rest of the country for months at a time. The program includes subisidies for local flight operators, rebulding of airfields, and development of regional aircraft.