Saturday, November 11, 2017

LOT: Poland needs new airport to avoid Warsaw Chopin growth limits

The Polish government has approved a plan to build a new central airport, allocating as much as PLN35 billion ($9.6 billion) by 2027, Bloomberg reported. The new airport, which will likely be located in central Poland between the capital Warsaw and Lodz, will be capable of servicing as many as 100 million passengers per year, according to the government plan released Nov. 7.

“The fast development of the aviation market in Poland for the next couple of years creates 5% passenger-growth annually, [and] that means creating additional 30 million passengers by 2025,”LOT Polish Airlines corporate communications executive director Adrian Kubicki told ATW in Warsaw.

Kubicki contends there is not enough capacity at Warsaw Chopin airport to handle further growth for the Polish flag carrier; the airport is already reaching its limits. “Warsaw actually has been never built as a hub for transfer business. Growth is limited,” Kubicki said.

As Poland’s biggest airport, Warsaw Chopin has some room to increase capacity from the 13 million passengers it serviced last year, Bloomberg said, adding about 34 million passengers traveled through Polish airports in 2016, and 11% increase on the previous year.

“Yes, there is still room for improvement at the airport, like extending the terminal, additional air bridges, etcetera. But in the next ten years, the airport is running out of capacity,” Kubicki said. “Besides that, Warsaw is surrounded by the city which also creates expansion limitations.”

“I think the biggest challenge for LOT is airport capacity. All our new long-haul flights are doing well and are fully booked. Further growth depends on how we manage capacity restrictions at Warsaw. It is obvious the airport is nearing capacity,” LOT CEO Rafal Milczarski told ATW earlier this year.

With a new airport, LOT can further develop its connectivity, Kubicki said. The carrier is already the largest airline in Central/Eastern Europe regarding the long haul market.

“What we need is a central hub to connect the regions,” Kubicki said. “LOT will have a 50% market share at the new airport. This is very healthy and could attract some carriers from America and Asia as well [to fly to Warsaw].”

In terms of business, Kubicki said LOT will reach PLN280 million in operational profit for 2017 and accommodate 6.8 million passengers, up 26% from 5.4 million a year ago.

LOT, which is expanding its fleet with larger aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 787-9, will see a 42% capacity growth in terms of ASKs in 2018.

By 2020, LOT plans to double its passengers, number of flights, and fleet size compared to 2015, and become the largest carrier in Central and Eastern Europe.

According to Bloomberg, the government plan indicates the eventual closure of Warsaw Chopin airport—formerly known as Warsaw Okecie—but no potential dates for its closing were given.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

No comments: