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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 22, 2008
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Meeting the Challenge
October 22, 2008   
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Michał Marzec, general director of Polish Airports State Enterprise (PPL) and director of Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

How many passengers does Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport handle and how do the figures compare with the previous year? Do you expect to handle more passengers in the future?
Warsaw's Frederic Chopin Airport continues to be the leader among Polish airports as it provides 48 percent of all services on the Polish air transport market.

Last year the Warsaw airport handled 9,268,476 passengers, 14.4 percent more than the year before. There has been an even greater increase in passenger traffic this year. Between January and August, we handled over 6.5 million passengers, 79 percent more than in the same period last year. We estimate that we will reach the 10 million mark by the end of the year, and maintain an annual growth rate of about 7 percent until 2012.

What proportion of air travelers use low-cost airlines and how does Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport cope with increased air travel, chiefly in the case of low-cost carriers?
Low-cost carriers have increased their share of the market in Warsaw from 18 percent in 2005 to 25 percent this year. We need to resolve some issues in regard to the low-cost Etiuda Terminal. Today it services nearly 1.4 million travelers, which is three times the number when the terminal opened four years ago.

We are currently working to complete construction on the T2 zone and the Central Pier. Then we plan to modernize the T1 zone and integrate it with T2. When these projects are completed the airport will have the capacity to handle 15 million passengers annually. We are also improving passenger service quality and increasing the overall operational capacity of the Warsaw airport.

We need the planned Modlin Airport, 35 km north of Warsaw, to take some load off Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport.

What special features does the new terminal at Warsaw airport have for travelers?
Apart from the usual facilities found at all modern airports throughout the world, including banking, post office, shops, restaurants and food outlets, we have opened two new executive lounges. A new multi-level car parking garage has increased parking capacity by 37 percent to 3,700 spaces, including 850 spaces for long-term parking. In the near future we plan to provide our passengers with access to Wi-Fi, which is currently available only in T1.

How would you encourage people to travel by air instead of using other forms of transportation, such as rail or bus?
Air travel has a clear advantage over rail or road transport because it is safer and faster. A flight from Gdańsk to Warsaw takes less than an hour in comparison with nearly five hours by train and even longer by car depending on road conditions.

But it is the airlines that determine destinations and network connections. Last year 11 new routes were launched from Warsaw, including two seasonal routes. At the same time, five new carriers launched their regular flights. In the first half of this year, another eight routes were added, mainly by low-cost carriers, and we gained three new carriers.

What are PPL's investment plans?
We have to constantly modernize and upgrade our facilities to be able to provide world-class services. Moreover, domestic and international safety and security regulations require airports to allocate substantial funds to meet the stringent and mandatory regulations.

PPL's investment plan for the next five years includes a budget of over zl.1 billion. This sum includes outlays to meet the safety and security regulations as well.

How does Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport plan to cope with the increased number of passengers who are expected to arrive in Warsaw during the Euro 2012 soccer tournament?
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA ) expects that 50 percent of all soccer fans will arrive and depart by plane, including 95 percent of all the fans who will fly to and from Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport within 10 hours prior to and after a match. This means that the airport will handle an extra 24,120 passengers daily on an additional 117 flights.

We have taken a number of steps to cope with this challenge. As I mentioned, we plan to implement several investment projects. Also, we need to implement organizational and system measures to increase airport capacity and implement procedures to enable landings in difficult weather conditions. Similar to airports in cities where previous European soccer championships were held, such as Vienna, Geneva and Zurich, we are working to develop a temporary infrastructure and secondary airports to provide aircraft parking facilities.

It is important that the railway line connecting Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport and downtown Warsaw be completed in 2011. The latest UEFA audit found that Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport had achieved an 80-percent preparedness level for the Euro 2012 championships.
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