How to plan the development of the Polish airline market taking into consideration the construction of the Solidarity Transport Hub? Representatives of entities such as regional airports, Chopin Airport, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Department of Aviation at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the STH met today in Warsaw to discuss the government’s policy with regard to the development of the airport network. A new document should be completed by 2020.
The dynamic development of air traffic in Poland and the planned construction of the Solidarity Transport Hub mean that new principles and a new approach to aviation policy must be developed with regard to the airport network. The latest government document concerning this area, namely the ‘Programme for the Development of the Airport Network and Ground Infrastructure’, was adopted pursuant to a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the 8th of May 2007 and, over the past 12 years, was partially implemented and partially became obsolete.
The decision to build STH has already been made – works are in progress and determine the framework of aviation policy. Due to this, the existing ‘Programme for the Development of the Airport Network’ and ground infrastructure must be replaced with a new document. Representatives of the industry must now work out a common position as to the scope, role and methodology that we will use when working on those components of aviation policy that will concern the development of the airport network
As noted by the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, we can expect a significant increase in traffic levels on the Polish market, resulting from such factors as increasing Poland’s air traffic capacity through the introduction of the STH.
Construction of a large transport hub in a given country does not necessarily result in a shift in the proportion of shares in air traffic. In this context, construction of the STH may constitute an opportunity for regional airports and not a threat.
The meeting was initiated by representatives of the airline industry, including the Polish Regional Airport Association that brings together airports which today generate 60% of air traffic in Poland. The STH enterprise took it upon itself to organise the first in a series of workshops. Participants discussed various aspects of shaping aviation policy, its scope, time horizon and methodology as well as the shortcomings of the airport infrastructure in central Poland, the low capacity of infrastructure and environmental restrictions.
As a fully-fledged member of the aviation industry, we took it upon ourselves to organise these workshops. The industry, as a whole, is aware of the need and demand for working out a common position in the face of challenges posed by increasing air traffic levels. The STH as a project complements the existing airport network and will increase the synergy of the entire system, which is why representatives of all entities responsible for managing the airport infrastructure are present here today
According to Mariusz Szpikowski, CEO of the Porty Lotnicze state-owned enterprise and Head of Chopin Airport in Warsaw, “although the development of regional ports in recent years is a positive phenomenon, it wasn’t in all cases accompanied by positive financial results and, in some situations, resulted in a ‘cannibalisation’ of the market”.
We, therefore, need to develop a strategy so as to enable a healthy development of regional ports conducive to the interests of both individual regions and Poland as a whole
The STH project is an opportunity for regional airports as well. We believe that implementation of the project will lead to much needed changes in Polish regulations, making it quicker and easier to carry out capital works projects at airports. We hope that legal barriers preventing the sustainable development of the domestic airport network will be removed, such as the controversial regulations concerning areas of restricted use
We were happy to accept the invitation to a strategic workshop on the subject of the development of aviation in Poland. It was an excellent opportunity to discuss the role of regional airports, including Kraków Airport, in the context of plans for the construction of STH. Air traffic projections make it clear that we urgently require both a new, large air transport hub, as well as modern and dynamically developing regional airports
Other participants in the meeting included Beata Mieleszkiewicz – Head of the Department of Aviation at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Piotr Samson – Head of the Civil Aviation Authority, Janusz Janiszewski – Head of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency as well as representatives of regional airports in Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk, Lublin, Łódź, Modlin, Olsztyn, Poznań, Rzeszów and Wrocław. The meeting was moderated by experts from consulting companies – Boston Consulting Group and ARUP. Apart from providing answers to the question of the future shape of aviation policy with regard to the development of the airport network, the workshops also created a platform for future cooperation.
In 2018, Polish airports handled over 46,000,000 passengers, a 15% increase in comparison to 2017 and almost five times as many as in 2005. According to the projections of PwC, this year Polish airports will handle over 50,000,000 passengers. The number of airline passengers is dynamically growing and, according to the Civil Aviation Authority, this trend will see the number of passengers handled at Polish airports exceeding 90,000,000 by 2035. According to a report by Baker McKenzie and Polityka Insight, 160,000,000 passengers will be unable to use air transport in Europe due to insufficient infrastructure capacity.
As early as in mid-April, the STH enterprise commenced the process of making strategic arrangements with industry partners. Representatives of over 60 companies, who will operate at the airport or provide services for the airport, participated in the inaugural meeting. As a result of these consultations, the enterprise received over 400 comments and proposals regarding the infrastructure of the prospective airport. The second stage of strategic consultations regarding the STH will commence in July and will feature even more entities.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also commenced collaborating with STH, giving rise to the Airport Consultative Committee (ACC) – which will assist in planning the prospective airport. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled to take place on the 18th of July in Warsaw. The IATA has invited all interested carriers (including those not affiliated with the organisation) to participate in the committee. Apart from the airlines currently operating from Chopin Airport and other network carriers, these include budget and cargo airlines.
Plans of the STH enterprise for this year include choosing a strategic and technical consultant – an international entity with experience in implementing projects involving the design, construction and management of air transport hubs. The enterprise also intends to commission a general (master) plan for the Solidarity Airport in this year. The plan will tackle such issues as the estimated levels of air traffic, dimensioning of the planned infrastructure and its preliminary location plan, the staging of construction works and a detailed business model of the prospective airport.