Taking Flight

Eastern Poland is getting ready to welcome its latest gateway, Lublin Airport – Caroline Cook reports.

Marketed as the easternmost gateway of East-Central Europe, Lublin Airport has been built to appeal to the 350,000 inhabitants of its region as well as the additional 100,000 students that live in the city.
Due to commence operations in December, the airport is particularly keen to serve the low-cost market.  With Ryanair due to take the first flight out on December 17 to London Stansted, the following day Wizz Air will launch services to London Luton and Sandefjord in Norway.  Ryanair will begin flights to Dublin and Polish tour operator ITAKA will launch charter flights to the Egyptian region for the winter season 2012/13.
The development project was included in the Regional Operational Programme for the Lubelskie Voivodeship – the third largest administrative region in Poland – in 2007 when the airport’s management board committed to implement the ‘2+2 objective’ (to design and build a gateway within four years).
In April 2008, UK-based Airport Strategy and Marketing presented a preliminary feasibility study identifying the need for an airport as well as the market trends.  Meetings with 27 airlines confirmed that 15 supported the idea of Polish expansion and forecasts were prepared, assuming that the airport would serve 300,000 passengers in its first year, rising to half a million by its second.
In 2010, a study was conducted by Millward Brown SMG/KRC and PPL Warsaw Chopin Airport which found that 7% of Polish passengers using Warsaw Okecie Airport were inhabitants of the Lublin region – and 42.4% of these were from the city of Lublin.
The project was designed by a consortium led by Sener, and construction of the terminal, by Budimex, began in November 2010.  Mota-Engil Central Europe built the 8,268ft-long (2,520m) runway and taxiways.  The apron can hold up to six aircraft the size of Boeing 737s.
All work was completed at the airport on October 11 at a cost of PLN418.7 million (US$132.8m) with official certification due to be presented as Airports International went to press.
The airport’s 118,403sq ft (11,000m2) terminal can currently hold up to one million passengers per annum.  It comprises eight check-in desks plus one additional for oversized baggage; two self-service check-in kiosks; and a business lounge.
It has two car parks with capacity for 1,000 vehicles, and is the second airport in Poland to have a railway station within the terminal, directly linking the gateway to the city centre.
With 10,764sq ft (1,000m2) of commercial facilities – including a baby care room, chapel, medical centre, information desk and currency exchange counter as well as a handful of shops and cafes – the airport initially appears fairly modest.  But reports on the second stage of development indicate there are plans to extend the taxiways to expand cargo facilities, as well as adding piers on to the terminal to raise capacity to 3.5 million passengers per annum.  However, it is unclear when these plans will be put into motion.