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Russian Attack Destroys Odesa Airport Runway

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DALLAS – The Ukrainian army has revealed that a Russian missile attack destroyed the runway at Odesa International Airport (ODS).

According to a report by archyde.com citing the General Staff of Ukraine, the 2800-m-long, 45-m wide runway was rendered unusable due to the impact of a Russian cruise missile. Odesa is the last major Black Sea city under Ukrainian control. It is close to the separatist Moldovan territory of Transnistria, where Russian troops are stationed.

Back in March, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which represents 192 nations, was first contacted by the US regarding the Russian bombardment of Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport (LWO) and Boryspil International Airport (KBP), the latter being Ukraine’s largest airport.

Due to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine restricted its airspace to civilian aircraft on February 24, 2022. On Thursday, NATO’s secretary-general said that there was an “absolute possibility” that the Russia-Ukraine war would continue for months or years.

Odesa International Airport

Odesa International Airport is located in Ukraine’s third-largest city, 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) southwest of the city center.

The airport’s origins can be traced back to 1908, when Arthur Anatra, an entrepreneur and aviation enthusiast, purchased a plot of land in a steppe near Odesa and built a repair and assembly workshop, followed by a “school” airstrip for training and test flights. According to PDS, the name “School” has stuck to become official for the airfield.

The first technical flight took place on May 21, 1924, while the first passenger flight at ODS took place on May 25 of that same year. Since then, the airport has become one of the largest in Ukraine.

It was not the city’s main airport until 1961, when the 2800-meter runway, a platform, and a terminal building were built on the grounds of the “School” airfield. The Tupolev Tu-104 was the first plane to land at the airfield that year. At the time, only three Ukrainian SSR airports could accommodate this type of aircraft at the time, and Odesa airport was one of them.

In May 2007, the airport started construction work that included extending the main runway. The airport has a modern terminal that was launched in 2020. The old terminal at ODS closed its doors in February of that same year, and a renovated runway was put into operation in 2021.

During the airport expansion work in 2021, workers found a mass grave containing 5,000-8,000 skeletons believed to be victims of the Holodomor, aka the Terror-Famine or the Great Famine, which was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1932 to 1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians.

Prior to the invasion, low-cost airlines Ryanair (FR) and Wizz Air (W6) offered many connections to/from ODS. Other airlines that have serviced ODS include LOT (LO), SkyUp Airlines (PQ), Czech Airlines (OK), and Ukraine International Airlines (PS).

Featured image: Odessa International Airport. Photo: ODS

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