Poland’s Flying Circus

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Less than six years ago, Warsaw had only one airport — Okęcie — which has recently been expanded and in 2016 handled a record number of 12.8 million passengers. Today, there is Warsaw Modlin, located 40 kilometres north of Poland’s capital, served mainly by Ryanair flights, and Radom, about 100 kilometres south of the city, which opened three years ago at the cost of 120 million złotys (27.8 million euros) and recently lost its only regular carrier. Now the government is planning another airport in Stanisławów, some 45 kilometres west of Warsaw. The cost of the investment is estimated at 20 billion złotys (4.6 billion euros) and the first plane is scheduled to take off in mid-2027.

Before work on the central airport have even begun, experts are discussing the future of the two smaller airports — Modlin and Radom — which both need further investment. There are no investors interested in putting an additional 130 million złotys into Radom, which is regarded as one of the most controversial Polish investment projects of recent years.

“This airport is a complete nonsense. It shouldn’t have been built in the first place,” Adrian Furgalski, an airline expert at ZDG TOR, a transport infrastructure consultancy, told TVN24BiS. “It generates a loss and the city of Radom surely has more serious needs,” he added.

In the first nine months of 2017, Radom handled 9000 passengers, compared to over 2.2 million who used Modlin. But Polish Airports (PPL), one of Modlin shareholders, does not approve of a loan that could finance the expansion of Modlin and seems to instead be more interested in Radom, and is considering investing there.

“Such an option is being analysed now. However, there is no specific offer or decision in place yet,” Hubert Wojciechowski, from the marketing and PR department at Frederic Chopin Airport (Okęcie) told TVN24BiS. “We are looking for the best solution, not only as far as the cost of expansion is concerned but also in regards to accessibility, roads and rails,” he added.

“What we have here is a flying paranoia in the heart of Poland,” Mr Furgalski added. “I understand we are extremely rich since we’re abandoning the expansion of Modlin and we want to spend up to one billion złotys on Radom,” he added.

He believes the conflict is political, as the government and PPL represent one political option and the local government, which is also a shareholder in Modlin — another, and they cannot reach an agreement.

A decision about the central airport appears to be more straightforward, as the national government is expected to take it. Its proposal was adopted in September. The Council of Ministers was expected to adopt appropriate regulations in the same month.

Are they having second thoughts?

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