By Shakeh Avoyan
An Argentinian company that runs Armenia’s main international airport unveiled on Tuesday the architectural design of a new passenger terminal which it intends to build there in the next three years.
The construction project, designed by Argentine architect Pablo Orsi, is currently considered by the Armenian government and is part of Corporacion America’s $59 million master plan of turning the Zvartnots into a modern facility meeting international civil aviation standards.
Company executives told journalists that the new terminal will occupy 20,000 square meters of space and process up to two million passengers a year. They said only about 880,000 people used Zvartnots’s existing Soviet-era terminal last year, which represents a 6 percent increase from 2002.
Built in 1980 to service internal Soviet flights, Zvartnots has had to be redesigned since
Armenia’s independence to make room for customs and passport control services. Still, the circle-shaped building remains outdated and inconvenient. It will contrast sharply with the simpler, rectangular form of the new terminal which is supposed to be better suited for handling international flights.
“The best airport terminals in the world are the simplest ones,” said Armen Ter-Tachatian, a legal counsel for the Argenitinian group.
Corporacion America belongs to Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentine billionaire of Armenian descent and runs 33 airports across South America. It took over Zvartnots in 2002 after signing a 30-year management contract with the Armenian government. Its master plan envisages the construction of two new terminals there. Work on the first one is due to get underway later this year.
The company claims to have already invested heavily in the improvement of Zvartnots’s runway and ground services.
However, the slow pace of changes means that there are still many complaints about the poor quality of passenger service voiced by locals and especially foreign visitors.