Photographer: Piotr Malecki/Bloomberg

Poland Approves Plan to Build $9.6 Billion Central Airport

  • Facility aims to handle up to 100 million passangers per year
  • Warsaw’s Okecie airport faces closure under government plan

Poland will build central airport for as much as 35 billion zloty ($9.6 billion) by 2027, reversing a strategy based on expanding smaller regional ports with the help of funds provided by the European Union.

The facility, which will probably be located in central Poland between Warsaw and Lodz, will be capable of servicing as many as 100 million passengers per year, or three times Poland’s current needs, under a plan approved by the government on Tuesday. Polish airports serviced 34 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 11 percent from a year earlier.

The nation’s air traffic is projected to reach 94 million by 2035, the government said. Poland is also seeking to strengthen trade links with China, marketing itself as a port of entry into the EU’s single market for the Asian country’s producers.

The plan poses risks for the 14 regional airports built or refurbished over the last decade with EU funds, of which a majority is already struggling to be profitable amid passenger traffic intensity that reached only a third of the bloc’s average last year.

Poland has invested at least 5.8 billion zloty to upgrade airports between 2007 and 2015, with 40 percent of the funds coming from the EU. While Poland’s biggest airport in Warsaw has some room to increase capacity from the 13 million passengers it serviced last year, its location within the boundaries of the capital city poses limitations.

Under the government plan, the Warsaw Okecie airport would eventually be shut. No potential dates for the closing were given.

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