Bernie Baldwin

“You reap what you sow,” according to the well-known phrase. And in southern Poland, Katowice Airport is doing just that.

The airport is beginning to prove that adage as it continues an investment programme which began in 2007 and which will continue until 2025. “So far, we have completed over 40 tasks which are collectively worth about PLN690 million (approximately €160 million), of which PLN170 million (approximately €40 million) came from the European Union funds,” reports Monika Krzykawska, the airport’s marketing Manager.

“Among the significant investments was the construction of a new runway, which was completed over four years ago. This is equipped with a Cat II ILS, which makes it considerably easier for aircraft to perform low visibility landings,” she adds.

“As part of our large-scale infrastructure investment programme, we have constructed passenger Terminal C, which handles arrivals. Furthermore, we have expanded Terminals A and B to enhance our offer even further. As a result, the terminal infrastructure is capable of a throughput of 6 million passengers a year.”

Beyond the passenger areas, the airport company upgraded its existing maintenance hangar and constructed a new one, which is dedicated to heavy maintenance. “Currently, there are two companies at the maintenance base; they employ over 600 highly qualified workers. Such carriers as Finnair, TuiFly and Lufthansa CityLine perform maintenance checks of their aircraft at Katowice Airport,” Krzykawska confirms.

The first stage of the investment programme rounded off with a new cargo terminal being built in the south-eastern corner of the airport. “Thanks to this project, Katowice Airport strengthened its position amongst regional airports when it comes to handling cargo,” Krzykawska emphasises. “It is the only airport in Poland – apart from Warsaw Chopin Airport – where the biggest delivery companies regularly operate a couple of times a week.

“In 2018, we began the second stage of the expansion of the airport’s infrastructure. The project is worth over PLN650 million (approximately €151million). Tasks valued at PLN190 million (approximately €44 million) have already been contracted, and are currently being realised,” she adds.

“Among the biggest projects which comprise the investment programme is the complex expansion and reconstruction of passenger Terminal B. This will expand the surface area of the terminal by 40%, while its cubic capacity will increase by 35%,” the marketing manager notes.

The company is currently creating a concept for a central passenger terminal which would handle arrivals and departures. “Due to the introduction of a new road system in front of the central terminal, we also plan to construct a multistorey car park,” Krzykawska states.

“What is more, a new cargo terminal, as well as two maintenance hangars for C-Class aircraft, will be built before the end of 2025. In fact, the work to create an apron in front of the future hangars is currently underway. Finally, in the south-eastern part of the airport, as a result of the large amount of aviation fuel sold here, a fuel base will be established.”

With aviation continuously developing in Poland, Katowice Airport is rightly confident about its up coming 2019 results. “During the summer season, our network of regular, charter and cargo connections consists of 130 routes. In 2018, we handled a record-breaking 4.84 million passengers and believe that number will increase to 5.5 million for 2019,” says Krzykawska. Charter flights made up approximately 2 million of those passengers.”

Next year is looking positive too, primarily as a result of the developments discussed. The investment programme at Katowice Airport has led to carriers developing bases there. “As of today, Wizz Air, Ryanair, Enter Air and Smartwings each have a base at our airport,” Krzykawska confirms. “Wizz Air has had a considerable presence at Katowice Airport for many years and we are delighted that during the 2020 summer season, the carrier will offer 36 routes.

“Also next summer, Ryanair, which opened its base at Katowice Airport in October 2019, will offer the most new routes,” she continues. “Currently, two of Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800s are stationed at the airport. Amongst the 20 routes offered by the carrier in 2020, 14 are new, namely Cork, Manchester, Oslo-Torp, Kherson, Cologne-Bonn, Alghero, Dortmund, Burgas, Bologna, Brindisi, Catania, Paphos, Kyiv-Boryspil and Odessa.”