Prague Airport to see big investment

Václav Havel Airport Prague will increase its capacity over the next decade

Václav Havel Airport Prague should see Kč 27 billion in investment over the next decade, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) told journalists. The announcement was made on the 80th anniversary of the airport's start of operations on April 5, 1937.

The investment is to upgrade the airport so it can accommodate more passengers. Over the next 20 years, passenger numbers are expected to increase on average by 3.4 percent per year. In 2010 the airport handled 10.9 million passengers, and this year it is expected to see 14 million. The airport has been increasing capacity above the European average. In 2016, passenger numbers at Václav Havel Airport Prague were up 8.7 percent, while the average was 5 percent.

The investment will go toward increasing the capacity of the terminals, improving the area in front of the terminals and expanding parking capacity. The upgrades will increase the capacity of Václav Havel Airport Prague to 21 million people per year, said Václav Řehoř, chairman of the Prague Airport (Letiště Praha) board of directors. The airport also envisions the addition of a new runway, which has been planned since the 1960s.

“We grow carefully based on the growth of passengers. Five million more people than we handle now means that we have to increase capacity everywhere — from parking spaces, check-in, the runway system to services. Therefore, working with renowned international consultancy firms, we have drafted development studies that will allow us to implement the growth in stages,” Řehoř said.

Currently the airport can handle some 15.5 million passengers per year. In the near future, capacity could be increased by 2 million passengers per year. The main runway will also be upgrades so it can handle three planes per hour instead of the current two.

Prague Airport plans extensions to Terminal 2 spread over several stages. It will become the main handling area for both passengers and their baggage, where everyone will pass through one central security control. “We have a clear idea of what the options of increasing airport capacity are and we are ready to invest in its development. Based on the current state of the market, we estimate that we will invest, on the mid-term horizon, in the Terminal extension and parallel runway construction around Kč 27 billion. This will allow us to handle up to 21 million passengers a year. However, we can look even further into the future, at visions for future generations which will allow the increasing of the capacity to 28 million passengers a year,” Řehoř said.

Until then, it is necessary to expand capacity use the existing space. “Already this year, we have started implementing certain measures that will help us increase the capacity of the existing terminal building and runway system. Until 2020, we plan to invest Kč 2.3 billion in increases to the number of check-in aisles, check-in desks and security control posts. These steps will help increase the terminal capacity to 17 million passengers. The number of take-offs and landings performed on the main runway can then be increased by speed turns which will allow aircraft to exit the runway early,” Řehoř said.

The importance of passenger air transport continues to increase, the airport operator said in a press release. According to current forecasts, the volume of air transport in Europe will double over the next 20 years. On average, Czechs now make 0.58 foreign trips a year, with 40 percent by air. However, thanks to increasing living standards, it can be expected that in 20 years the figure will reach 1.24 trips per person a year. As a result the capacity demands on Václav Havel Airport Prague will increase significantly.

The airport is also focusing on projects to improve the ground access system, parking options and the use of the public area in front of Terminals. This year, using a new urban concept of the greater airport area, the airport wants to develop these projects into a building plan for the future construction and changes to airport public areas.

The airport has come a long waz already in 80 years. At first, there were five grass take-off and landing strips forming a star shape.

Prague Ruzyně Airport received a Diploma and Gold Medal at the Paris 1937 World's Fair for the technical conception of the central airport, primarily the architecture of the check-in building now known as Terminal 4. This terminal is now used for VIP flights and state visits.

The first paved runways were built during the 1940s. About half of the runway system was finished by the time of the German invasion in March 1939. Four planned paved runways were finished by 1945 and ranged up to 1,800 meters. A plan for a modern runway was proposed in the 1950s. The construction was finished during the 1960s and the main airport runway had a length of 3,115 meters. Two runways are currently used at Prague Airport. The main runway was lengthened in 1982 to 3,715 meters and there is a secondary runway.

The airport has also been in films. The airport posed as Miami International Airport in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

Right after former president Václav Havel's death on Dec. 18, 2011, an online petition organized by Slovak film director Fero Fenič asked the government and the Parliament to rename Prague Ruzyně Airport to Václav Havel International Airport. This name change took place Oct. 5, 2012, on what would have been Havel's 76th birthday.

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