The President visited the passenger check-in hall, departure terminals and boarding gates, and looked at a scale model of the airport. In addition, he was shown a unique multimedia interactive exhibit on the history of Yury Gagarin’s first space flight.
During his visit to the airport, the President was accompanied by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Presidential Aide Igor Levitin, Saratov Region Governor Valery Radayev, Chairman of Board of Directors of Renova Group Viktor Vekselberg, State Duma Deputy and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova, General Director of the Moscow Kremlin Museums and daughter of the world’s first cosmonaut, Yelena Gagarina.
Gagarin International Airport is located 20 kilometres away from Saratov, near the village of Saburovka. It is the second large airport in Russia’s recent history built from the ground up (as was Platov Airport in Rostov-on-Don). The airport was built through a public-private partnership under the Programme for the Development of Russia’s Transport System. The airport terminal is 23,000 square metres in area. The passenger terminal is designed to handle one million people a year.
The first passenger test flight, Vnukovo-Gagarin-Vnukovo, was flown by Pobeda airline on August 18. The airport opened on August 20. The old airport, Saratov-Tsentralny, which was built in 1931 in the city, had considerable aircraft related restrictions and is no longer operating .