According to the experts, the decision taken by EU is the right one, since local governments planned to build many airports which would not be profitable. New airports can be built only in the north-east, and currently some of existing airports are threatened with small air traffic. Regional airports are a good and very desirable cause, but one should not exaggerate. Airports generate income, new jobs, help to make the region more open to the world, but the number of people who can use their services is limited. If we had three large airports close to one another, within the radius of 50 km, they would be deserted or used very rarely, explains Bartosz Głowacki from “Skrzydlata Polska” (Winged Poland) magazine.
Also, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development as well as the European Commission express the same opinion. Because of this, new EU budget perspective (to 2020) does not include the funding of airports by the Community. The money will go only to the existing airports which are entered in the Trans-European Transport Network TEN-T.
What does the lack of funding mean? First of all, problems for local governments, particularly in Białystok or Kielce, which were planning new investments in this segment. What is more, for example, the airport in Szczytno-Szymany will receive financial support from EU (the project has been accepted in the previous financial perspective), but the investment has to be accounted for by the end of 2015. It may be difficult to do, because the tenders for the construction of the terminal have just begun. The terminal in Gdynia is nearing completion, but it is not known whether the European Committee would demand the return of the subsidy amounting to 91 million zloty. The profitability of this investment is currently being analysed.
The airport is a part of the infrastructure, and it is not possible to directly translate it to the balance of profits and losses, but it has to be profitable in the long term. But in the foreseeable future there is no sign of the break-even point, either in the case of the airport in Szymany, or in Gdynia, says Krzysztof Moczulski from the lotnictwo.net.pl Internet portal.
Bartosz Głowacki emphasises that currently Poland needs only one more airport, located in the north-east. The works are in the most advanced phase on the airport in Szymany. Building an airport in Białystok was also considered, but the decision has been suspended, mainly due to the announced suspension of the funding.
The last two years in Poland stand out because two new airports were opened: in Modlin and Lublin. In Radom, the airport is under construction; also, Koszalin wants to have its own airport. However, one should bear in mind that even some of the older airports are threatened with lack of routes and passengers.
It is worth noting that the state of road infrastructure in our country is improving. A few years ago, before Modlin airport was built, the airport in Łódź-Lublinek was promoted on the grounds that one can reach Łódź from Warsaw in less than two hours. Today, the opposite is true. One can reach Warsaw from Łódź in a hour, via a very good road. So why should the passengers use the airport in Lublinek, when they can choose the one in Warsaw or Modlin, observes Bartosz Głowacki.
Krzysztof Moczulski adds, We should have a look at what happened in Spain, where airports were built in large numbers. And now, most of them are deserted. One should ask oneself the question, whether we should try and stop Ryanair from cutting the routes of existing airports, or is it better to have fewer airports, but ones which can supply a large number of passengers, so that there will be no competition for a carrier, because the potential of the airport itself will be enough for him.