Anti-monopolists from St. Petersburg have canceled the competition to select the designer of the second phase of the construction of the Pulkovo airport. The solution is non-trivial, very rare. But even less common is when both competitors in the competition complained about its, let’s say, predestination.
The new modern Pulkovo airport, the only one in St. Petersburg (among civilians), belongs until 2039 to Air Gates of the Northern Capital LLC. It is it that is the organizer of the competition for the construction of the second stage of infrastructure. According to plans, by 2028 the air harbor of St. Petersburg will receive a new southern gallery and a southern platform, and will also reconstruct three more platforms. The updated infrastructure will be designed to receive narrow-body aircraft, including the domestic Sukhoi Superjet 100. In addition, private jets and wide-body airliners. The projects also provide for a taxiway and a special area for anti-icing treatment of aircraft.
Aeroproject and Lenaeroproekt
So, companies with very similar names – the Moscow Aeroproject Institute and the St. Petersburg Lenaeroproekt – applied for the development of these projects and related funds. Air Gate announced the competition in March of this year. As follows from the materials of the public procurement portal published on March 21, 2023, the operator expects to spend 591.7 million rubles on performing the functions of a technical customer for the first phase of reconstruction.
Previously, work was expected to begin in 2022. This was formalized by agreements between the government of St. Petersburg and investors in 2021 as part of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Then it was announced that the investments would amount to about 40 billion rubles. Ten “yards” are given by “private traders”, the federal government gives the same amount, the remaining twenty – from St. Petersburg. But the SVO intervened, the construction was postponed a little, but by no means canceled.
Versions and insiders from players
However, the FAS Office for St. Petersburg at the beginning of June sensationally canceled the competition for the construction of the second phase of Pulkovo. What happened? There are three versions. The first, quite official, comes from the antimonopolists: “The customer was obliged to cancel all protocols and make changes to the procurement documentation, as well as to resume the deadlines for submitting applications and completing the procurement procedure.” In other words, according to the OFAS, Air Gates of the Northern Capital LLC is to blame for the scandalous situation that has been tricky with the tender documentation. What both competing companies complained about. And this would have been a formal question if it were not for behind-the-scenes conversations and insiders from all four participants in the process – the Federal Antimonopoly Service and three commercial companies.
The anti-monopolists give such an insider: allegedly the contestants, nodding at each other, considered the tender, so to speak, predetermined. And therefore, both actively complained about formal violations in the design of his documentation. And now, from the cancellation, it is not clear who won, because it will take time to prepare a new competition. And maybe, by the way, there will be another competitor. Or not alone. In Russia, there are several other companies involved in this type of work.
The Air Gates are the most dissatisfied – the cancellation of the competition postpones the construction of much-needed infrastructure for an indefinite period. There are also fears that the “lot” may increase significantly in price. Material costs are rising by leaps and bounds.
Lenaeroproekt believes that “it is generally not right to allow Muscovites to compete, because the airport is located in St. Petersburg, a St. Petersburg company should equip it, this is logical.” This is economic separatism. In addition, the employees of this design, survey and research institute of air transport believe that they did a great job with similar work at the Nizhny Novgorod international airport, and therefore they have “everything in the ointment, the technologies have been worked out.”
Moscow Aeroproject hints that it was Lenaeroproekt, frightened of competition, that actively bombarded the FAS with complaints: “They thought they had the contract in their pocket, but we offered many high-quality and interesting solutions for Pulkovo. The Aeroproject, which was founded back in 1934, emphasizes that the organization has been dealing with civil aviation ground infrastructure for decades. And almost all the airports of the former USSR were built according to the projects of this research and development institute. Among the latest major projects – work on the airports of the Moscow aviation hub (Vnukovo, Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo), the Vostochny Cosmodrome (airfield complex), the new airports Tobolsk, Simferopol, Platov (Rostov- on-Don).
Also, the company and the research institutes noted that they had heard rumors about the predestination of the competition in favor of St. Petersburg colleagues. And now, they say, after the scandal with its abolition, “one can rely on honesty.”
Don’t count on foreigners
What else to say. The results of the competition were to be summed up on June 16. Now it will definitely be several months before the Air Gates prepare new documentation. In it, the customer will have to abandon the requirement “experience in designing airport terminals with an area of more than 15 thousand m2.” The FAS in St. Petersburg considered this requirement to be redundant. The Air Gates of the Northern Capital LLC hopes that they will cope quickly. “The necessary changes will be made to the documentation in accordance with the regulator’s explanations. The procurement procedure will be extended to allow bids to be submitted under the updated terms,” the company’s press service said in a statement.
Will there be other contestants? RBC writes on this subject: “According to Oleg Panteleev, executive director of the AviaPort industry agency, at present there are only 5-6 experienced companies in Russia that design air terminal complexes, although how many of them meet the requirements of the Northern Capital Air Gate” , the expert found it difficult to clarify. Previously, foreign bureaus could actively participate in such projects, but now you can’t count on it.”
The new Pulkovo International Airport in St. Petersburg opened in 2013. According to the British publishing house “Daily Telegraph”, in 2016, the Pulkovo air terminal entered the top ten most beautiful buildings of this purpose in the world. On June 3, 2021, Smolny entered into an agreement with the management company Air Gates of the Northern Capital LLC for the construction of the second phase of Pulkovo International Airport. The volume of investments will exceed 40 billion rubles.
Last year, the airport received 144,867 takeoffs and landings.