MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) – Control over a civilian airport in Kyrgyzstan currently hosting a US military transit center could be handed to a company run by a businessman with links to a Russian state-owned oil company, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Manas airport, which lies just outside the Central Asian nation’s capital, will until July serve as a base for US air tankers used to refuel fighter jets patrolling the skies over nearby Afghanistan.
But Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted earlier this year for the lease on the transit center not to be extended beyond 2014 in a move that will deprive the cash-strapped government of several dozen million dollars in annual revenue and potentially deprive the airport of finances for basic maintenance.
Kyrgyz officials have expressed hopes that Manas could become commercially viable through conversion into a civilian hub linking Asian destinations.
Russia has proposed to Kyrgyzstan that Manas be placed under the fiduciary management of airport investment company Novaport, which is 50 percent controlled by Roman Trotsenko, an adviser to the influential head of Russia’s state oil giant Rosneft, Kommersant newspaper reported.
Kommersant reported that Novaport is drawing up a business plan for Manas including investment of up to $300 million.
Rosneft, which has reportedly explored buying Moscow’s Domodedovo airport for around $4 billion together with Novaport, had expressed interest in developing an aviation hub in Kyrgyzstan in April, Kommersant reported.