Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) is in talks to buy a 20% stake in Moscow Vnukovo, the Russian capital’s third-largest airport by passenger traffic, its Group Chief Executive Akbar al Baker has told Reuters.

The Qatari flag carrier is looking to close the deal “sometime before the end of the year,” he said.

Moscow Sheremetyevo and Moscow Domodedovo are already congested, and the only airport that has an expansion opportunity is Vnukovo. We see huge potential to grow the airport to bring more traffic, to intensify traffic, to grow there, to increase the duty-free footprint.”

Qatar Airways initially revealed plans to acquire a stake in Vnukovo in March 2018, then set at 25%, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the issue the following month. However, a sale did not materialise.

The current owners of the airport are the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimuschestvo) and private investors, namely businessman Vitaly Vantsev and his partners. At the end of 2016, these parties signed a framework agreement for the consolidation of the airport's assets, according to which Rosimuschestvo received 25.1%, the private investors 74.9%. It has not been revealed from whom Qatar Airways would acquire its equity.

Vnukovo's key market is the CIS, with the bulk of its connectivity directed at Russia and other former Soviet republics. Qatar Airways flies to Moscow Domodedovo using an A320-200, with twenty-one weekly frequencies (0.53% of its weekly total of 3,997), according to the ch-aviation capacities module.