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Potential new airports in Poland

Adam Fularz

The Polish airline market was until 2004 a classical case of duopoly, with bilateral agreements between countries served from the national hub- Warsaw. The regional airports were mostly serving as spokes, and were controlled by PPL, state-owned airport authority. However, in the 90-ties it was decided to deregulate the airport market and abolish the dominant position of state-owned airport manager, PPL. Nearly all local airports become separate companies, with local governments involved in their management, what led to the partial decentralisation. Soon after opening of Polish sky for cometition flights “avoiding” the Warsaw hub became more often.

There are currently 12 passenger airports in operation, and there is also an airport Heringsdorf in German village Garz , 7 kilometers from polish seaside spa Świnoujście, which however cannot be used by Polish passengers because of lack of border crossing (the situation changed in 2008). This may change in the future and such situation as in the case of EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg where duty-free access to the airport is granted, was proposed to be introduced also here.

However, the rapid development (40 % of increase of passengers served at Polish airports in the first six months of 2005) of the unsaturated market and the existence of vast areas of land, not covered by airports within 100 kilometers of journey, allow to assume that many new airports could be necessary to properly serve this land pupulated by 38,2 million inhabitants. Especially the area of eastern Poland should be better penetrated by airline traffic.

Table. Airports in Poland

Port Lotniczy Bydgoszcz
Port Lotniczy Gdańsk -Rębiechowo
Port Lotniczy Katowice – Pyrzowice
Port Lotniczy Kraków- Balice
Port Lotniczy Łódź- Lublinek
Port Lotniczy Poznań- Ławica
Port Lotniczy Warszawa-Okęcie
Port Lotniczy Szczecin-Goleniów
Port Lotniczy Szczytno-Szymany (Olsztyn/ Mazury)
Port Lotniczy Wrocław
Port Lotniczy Zielona Góra- Babimost (Ziel. Góra/ Wielkopolska)
Port Lotniczy Rzeszów- Jasionka

Table 2. Traffic size in 2004


Available infrastructure for new airports

In Poland there are approximately 50, mostly unused former military airports with runways and taxiways parameters allowing to operate typical aircraft (for example Boeing 737). Only apporx. 10-20 % of them are suitably located and can be promising for the introduction of low-cost airlines, especially in cases where they are located close to large agglomerations.

It is possible that in case of operations thought to serve Warsaw, to choose even two or three of the former military airports situated around the town, instead of flying to the cheap Okęcie in the hearth of the Poland’s capital. A new low-cost airport, in Modlin, 40 kilometers to the north of Warsaw, is currently under construction, and it uses the infrastructure of the former military airport. However, many new airports seem to be needed in Poland.

Potential airports in the area south of Warsaw:

Kielce, (210 000 inhabitants), and Świętokrzyskie voivodship intend to adapt the airport in Masłów near Kielce, for regional traffic. Its current runway is asphalt, and its sizes are 900 x 30 meters. It is planned to develop the airport, but rather to the category of a City- Airport. Local governments founded a company „Lotnisko Kielce” with the goal to upgrade the airport. There are also discussions to build a completely new airport in Obice.

Exact location:,+POLAND&ll=50.890474,20.720215&spn=0.038731,0.044928&t=k&hl=en

Radom (227 000 inhabitants)- aims to adapt its military airport in Radom Sadków to serve domestic and int. flights for Warsaw and Mazowsze area. The runway has 2000 meters of length and 60 meters of width. Taxiways have 14 meters width and have been renovated in the year 2000. Infrastructure is quite good, even a place for fire brigade is there. The airport possesses a railway branch, which enables to introduce a railway link. Airport is located close to the town, and there is an association that lobbies for its opening for passenger services.

Nowe Miasto nad Pilicą possesses a former military airport, that is situated to the west of Radom, between Radom and Łódź (agglomeration of 1 million). Its runway size is 2 400 × 60, and the whole infrastructure could be used as a low-cost airport, because is located in an densly populated area, but there are no other large towns in its direct proximity, both Radom, Warszawa and Łódź being 60-80 km away. The airport possesses even some very old-fashioned airport infrastructure (with an inscription- Airport Nowe Miasto . Pilicą- see picture), showing that local flights have been served here.

Exact location:

Potential airports in the area East of Poland

Lublin, voivodship, and Lublin city council (356 000 inhabitants, agglomeration 0,5 million)- does not possess enough expert knowledge in order to choose from three options- whether to build a new city airport in Świdnik, or a larger one, 40 kilometres north to this 0,5 M agglomeration in Niedzwiada (estimated construction cost of 260 million PLN), or to use the existing military airport in Dęblin, 70 kilometres to the west. The Dęblin airport was proposed by the author to be used as the Lublin/Warszawa airport, to serve both Lublin and the Warsaw 2,6 million agglomeration.

Military airport in Dęblin is currently used by the army, and it is conveniently located in the frequented transport corridor from Lublin to Warsaw. It possesses apparently all the needed infrastructure, and runway has a length of approx. 2300-2500 meters. A frequented railway line is passing nearby, and an airport link to Lublin (journey time- 40 minutes) is possible after some investments would be made.

Exact location:

Lublin- Świdnik. There are plans to built a classic City-Airport for the regional services in Świdnik, close to Lublin, within its agglomeration area. Now it is a grass airfield, with some rare species of animals living in this grass, which make it difficult to construct a short concrete runway there, as it was planned.

Exact location:

Biała Podlaska, is a town situated in the north of Lublin voivodship, and possesses a former military airport, that could be easily adapted to serve passenger services in this area completely deprived of airports. Its town council lacks know-how and experienced people to advise about the airport development after the already misfortuned trial of the airport revival with Vahap Toy, Turkish businessman, who promised to revive the two runways with adjacent infrastructure, but finally fled the country leaving unpaid debts. Mr. Toy raised also large environmental dispute, because he intended to chop the forest close to the airport, which led to a country-wide discussion about his person and his controversial plans. Anyway, it is possible to use the airport without any damage to the nearby small forest, one of few in deforestrated eastern Poland. The company „Port Lotniczy Biała Podlaska” tries to revive the airport.

The Biala Podlaska airport is the only one in the eastern Poland area with the potential to serve passenger services and should be somehow revived to offer services for the population of this poorest part of the country. Its infrastructure is enormous: 2 runways of 3300 x 60 meters the larger one and the smaller of 2260 x 30 meters, with taxiways and aprons, what seems to allow to handle even intercontinental flights, as Mr. Toy planned. The name proposed by the author for this airport is “Podlasie/ Brest” or “Biała Podlaska / Brest”, so that would allow to cover the nearby western Belarus and attract passengers also from this area.

The airport is situated nearly at the border with the Republic of Belarus (10,3 million people), where, due to the duopolies on the market, there are no low cost airline’s services, and quantity of air travels per person per year is unbelievably low due to the monopoly of its national airlines.

Airport in Biala Podlaska is located in direct proximity to the Belarusian city of Brest/ Брэст (polish: Brześć, 20 km to the east, 290 000 inhabitants, agglomeration of approx. 350 000). There is a boarder crossing with Belarus in nearby Terespol/Brest (approx. 10 km distance to the east).

Table. Border traffic with Brest in the year 2003.
Border crossing; Quantity of passeners traversing the border crossing in 2003
(both sides)
Terespol – rail ; 934.822

Terespol – road ; 2.379.446


Besides, in proximity of 70 kilometers there is a precious complex of Białowieża Primaeval Forest, known as Belaveskaya Pushcha (Белавеская пушча) in Belarus and Puszcza Białowieska in Poland. This is an ancient virginal forest straddling the border between Belarus and Poland, located 70 km north of Brest. It is the only remaining part of the once immense forest spreading across the European Plains and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Exact location:

Białystok (290 000 inhabitants) is a centre of the rather sparsely populated Podlasie region. It does not posses any airport, and there are recent plans to built a City-Airport with a short runway in the nearest future (which raises fierce opposition and environmental debate because of the planned destruction of a nearby forest). However, there is an airport in 80 kms distance, close to Vaukavysk, Belarussia. There is also an airport in Hrodna (Grodno), Belarussia in 60 kms distance. They both could be used to serve the area after the abolishment of the regime in Belarusia and its accession to the EU.
Exact location of Vaukavysk, Belarussia:

Mińsk Mazowiecki – This military airport could be a good location for an airport for the Eastern Mazowsze and Bialystok region. There is sufficient runway length and with to handle most of aircraft. The airport is quite close to the Warsaw agglomeration of 2,6 million inhabitants (approx. 60 kilometres to the east) and could serve the traffic for the eastern part of this agglomeration.
Exact location:

Sochaczew (40 thousand inhabitants). In Sochaczew there is a military airport in Sochaczew-Bielice. There are plans of local governments to convert it into a low-cost airport for Łódź, western part of Mazowsze and nearby Warsaw agglomeration of 2,6 million inhabitants (54 kilometers to the east). There exists an association, “Stowarzyszenie Port Lotniczy Sochaczew”, that is the engine of the project, and recently it was decided to create a public limited company with the task to open the airport. The runway has 2500 m length and 60 m width, and a a concrete-asphalt surface possessing an good pressure index, overrun areas for increased safety, and a parallel, grass-surfaced runway. It is possible to introduce rail link directly to the airport, even connected with trains to Warsaw. It is also possible to built a short section of trail tracks in order to introduce a direct rail link to Warsaw.

Exact location:

Potential airports in the area North of Poland:

Olsztyn (160 000, agglomeration 200 thousand inhabitants), the capital of Warmia- Mazury voivodship (1,5 million inhabitants). The authorities seem to lack the knowledge to revive its international airport in Szczytno-Szymany, that does not serve any international flights now. The airport possesses a runway of 2000 meters length and 60 meters width, ILS system, and is located in Szymany in Mazury region. Its trade name is: Szczytno –Szymany, although both are small, unknown localities. Author proposed to the regional authorities and to the airport management to rebrand the airport to a better name, that is: “Olsztyn/ Mazury”, that would encapsulate the whole region of Mazury and its lakes, famous among tourists in Europe.

The airport is situated 56 kilometres to the south of Olsztyn, at the border with more densely populated Mazowsze region. There are also other larger towns (50- 60 thousand) in the 60 kilometres distance of this airport, such as Mława, Ciechanów, Ostrołęka. This airport has in its catchment area a population of 2- 2,5 million people in both voivodeships.

In order to provide an easy access, it is possible to introduce a rail link to this airport, using the rail branch to the airport. A journey time to the centre of Olsztyn would amount to 50 minutes with the infrastructure now existing, and 30-35 minutes if the rail infrastructure to the airport would be upgraded. In the future, a rail link to Białystok through Ostrołęka, and another to Ełk could be organised by putting railcars on the unused rail lines.

Exact location:

Słupsk (100 000 inhabitants)- lacks know-how to revive its airport in Słupsk-Redzikowo, that has a 7200 ft long runway, and a record of serving domestic flights to the popular seaside destination close to the Baltic sea. In the 1980-ties there were scheduled flights to Warsaw and Koszalin, and before the second world war, even to Berlin. It covers approx. 2,5 million people in its catchment area, and many popular seaside resorts. Słupsk participates in the „DEAR” project, that supports the local authorities trying to revive its airports.

Exact location:

Koszalin (107 000 inhabitants)- is already quite advanced in its attempts to revive its regional airport Koszalin/ Kołobrzeg in Zegrze Pomorskie, which has a record of serving domestic and charter flights to the nearby (40 kilometres) seaside resort Kołobrzeg (47 thousand inhabitants) in the 1980-ties and early 1990-ties. The airport area is rented by the Middle Pomerania Association of Communes and Districts (“Stowarzyszenie Gmin i Powiatów Pomorza Środkowego”) and possesses a runway of 2 400 meters length and 60 meters width. The surface of taxiways is 32350 meters. The local authorities are searching for investors willing to participate in the airport revival. The airport possesses a railway siding which enables an introduction of a rail link to the centre of Koszalin.

Fig. Cover of the Airport’s Investor’s Folder

Exact location:

Gdynia (253 000 within the city limits, 1,1 million people living in the Tri-city agglomeration)- intends to use its Babie Doły military airport to serve low-cost airlines for the 1 M inhabitants of the Trójmiasto agglomeration. An agreement was recently signed with the military authorities, that are interested in this way of more intense use of this so interestingly situated nearly directly on the sea-shore airport

Exact location:

Elbląg (130 thousand inhabitants, 1,1 million in nearby Tri-City agglomeration) is a town situated in the delta of Wisła river, in the area of Żuławy, called “Polish Netherlands”. It possessed an airport that served international flights (Berlin, Kaliningrad) before the World War II. Now the town intends to build a new airport as a green-field investment, but it is easier to use for civil services the nearby military airport in Malbork Króloewo, having a sufficient runway of 2500 x 60 meters. The airport’s name would be „Trójmiasto/ Elbląg”, as it would also serve the Tri-city 1,1 million people agglomeration, and would be connected with it by the railway line, located directly near the airport. The largest brick castle in Europe, The Teutonic Knights Castle, in nearby Malbork is one of Polish must-to-see. The whole area to the south of this airport is a “castle valley” along the Wisla river, that is full of turistically precious middle-aged castles and picturesque towns. It is very badly served by airports.

Exact location:

Toruń (209 thousand inhabitants, 0,6 million in a Two-City agglomeration). The airport in Toruń possesses already a runway of 4100 ft. There is a pressure from local politicians to adapt the local airport to serve domestic flights, and, after expanding the landing strip by 500 meters to over 2000 meters, also international flights to this tourist destination, that due to its unique gothic-styled city-centre is on the UNESCO world heritage list and is one of the favourite Polish tourist destinations, and one of Poland’s must-see.

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Potential airports in the area Southern and Western Poland:

Opole (130 thousand inhabitants, 4,5 million in nearby GOP conurbation) and Opolskie voivodship (1,1 million inhabitants). Its airport in Kamień Śląski, 10 kilometers to the south of Opole, is a former military airport, now privately owned. It could be easily be adapted to serve regional and international traffic for the densly populated region of Opole and 4,5 million inhabitants of the enormous conurbation of the Upper Silesia Coal Basin. It is located 8 kilometers from the A4 motorway connecting Wrocław with the GOP area. It possesses also a railway branch, which makes it possible to provide a rail link to Opole, where a change could be made for the trains to GOP cities, that are very badly served by the rather remotely located Pyrzowice airport. The airport has a concrete runway of 2300 m length and 60 m width.

Exact location:

Katowice (321 thousand inhabitants, 4,5 million in nearby GOP conurbation) can use its inner-city airport (current runway length: 1110 meters, width: 30 meters) to transform it into a proper City-Airport (there is limited space for the enlargement of the landing strip to approx. 1500 meters) that would serve this densly populated coal basin. However, only smaller aircraft could use it, and it would serve rather domestic and business traffic.

Exact location:

Legnica (106 thousand inhabitants, 0,5 million in nearby Okręg Miedziowy/ Copper Basin conurbation of Legnica, Głogów, Lubin and Polkowice) possesses itself an former military airport (runway length 1600 m, width 40 m) located in the city centre, that cannot be expanded (or could be expanded if the nearby rail line woul be moved into a tunnel) and could serve only as a City- Airport. Town authorities are looking for eager investors. If no one appears, airport can be turned into business park.

There is also a former military airport in Szprotawa-Wierchlice located approx. 30- 40 km to the west from the large towns of this 0,5 million conurbation: Głogów, Lubin and Polkowice. Its runway length is 2520 m, width 60 meters.

However, to the west from Legnica, close to Bolesławiec (80 thousand inhabitants), there is a former civil and military airport in Krzywa, that also served international passenger routes such as one to Moscow. It has a sufficient infrastructure (runway size: 2500 x 60 meters) and under the name „Bolesławiec/ Dolny Sląsk” or„Dolny Śląsk- Sudety” could serve the tourist destination and populated region of western Lower Silesia and Sudety mountains, that is not covered by the caption area of Wrocław airport. It is located directly at the A4 motorway Berlin- Wrocław, and very close to the Dresden- Wrocław rail main line. The airport possesses a railway branch, and an airport link is possible. However, it was reported that the infrastructure was in rather bad condition.

Exact location:

Mielec (64 000 inhabitants) located in a very densely populated western part of Podkarpacie and eastern Małopolska and Świętokrzyskie (an agglomeration Tarnobrzeg- Sandomierz- Stalowa Wola of approx. 200 000 inhabitants, 30 kilometers to the north, town of Tarnów, 120 thousand inhabitants, 50 kilometres to the west), has a former military and industrial airport managed by the company PZL Cargo, that during the renovation of the runway of Reszów airport in December 2004 was intended to be used as a replacement for Rzeszów runway, but it lacked the necessary modern navigation instruments except for some outdated system. Experts estimated that it could handle even large aircraft. Its location offers a chance to serve the parts of Świętokrzyskie and Małoposlska regions, that are otherwise not covered by other airports.

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Potential airports in the Wielkopolska region

The Wielkopolska Region (3,4 million inhabitants) is the 2nd largest region in Poland in the terms of area, and the third most densely populated. Its area is comparable to the size of Belgium. Its population is bigger than that of Latvia and is not much smaller than the population of Ireland or Lithuania. There is only one airport serving the whole region- in Poznań Ławica. This airport is rather very difficult to access because of the road congestion in the Poznań area. However, there are possibilities to revive other airports in this region.

Powidz has a military airport with a runway of enormous 3700 meters length. It was proposed to use it as a regional airport “Wielkopolska/ Konin” for the densly populated western Wielkopolska region, its nearby town of Konin (81 000 inhabitants) and the not covered by any airport town of Kalisz, located aprox. 70 kilometers to the south (110 000 inhabitants, 200 thousand in conurbation with nearby Ostrów Wielkopolski). There is a possibility of introducing a rail link to this airport using airport rail branch, and in this way connect it with regional transport network, and even offer a quick rail connection to the conurbation of Kalisz and Ostrów Wielkopolski situated to the south of the airport.

Exact location:

Piła (75 000 inhabitants) is located in the rather sparsely populated part of northern Wielkopolska. It also possesses a former military airport (runway size: 2400,5 x 60 meters) within the city limits, which does not serve any scheduled traffic. It was proposed to use it for commercial purposes, and the town authorities seem to be interested and sent invitation to airlines asking whether they would be eager to operate on it. However, it seems that these authorities have been rather unaware of the necessary equipment, and also the interested airlines did not convinced the authorities to turn it into a normal commercial airport. It my be due to the demographic limitations- the population in its caption area is not larger than 1,5 million.

Zielona Góra creates an agglomeration on the river Odra of approx. 183 000 inhabitants (Zielona Góra- approx. 120 000 inhabitants, Nowa Sól 43 000 inhabitants and Sulechów 20 000 inhabitants). Its airport Zielona Góra/ Wielkopolska is situated 10 kilometers to the east from the northern border of the tri-city, and is situated on the border with Wielkopolska. The so-situated airport covers also the very densly populated western part of the Wielkopolska region (3 million 346 thousand, of which 1,5 million inhabitants are estimated to live in the caption area of this airport). It has good connections to the centre of Poznań (700 thousand inhabitants in agglomeration, 90 km distance), and the rail branch to the terminal can be used, in combination with the railcars owned by the regional government, to connect the airport with other large cities in the direct proximity: the town of Gorzów (120 thousand inhabitants, 60 km to the north) and possibly also to Leszno (63 thousand, 70 km to the south).

There are 15 kilometers to the A2 motorway junction, and its part in direction to Poznań is newly built, the missing part to the German border being due to be finished by 2007. The airport ranks second in Poland in terms of its infrastructure surface such as taxiways and aprons, and has a good quality concrete runway of 2500 metres length and 60 meters width, that is 8200 ft long (PCN 45/R/B/W/T) and medium-sized passenger terminal. It can handle up to 10 B-737 on taxiways and aprons (aprons size: 569m x 94m). The airport has a record of serving the domestic traffic from Warsaw only for the Zielona Góra agglomeration. The idea of serving also international traffic for the region of Western Wielkopolska and Lubuskie, covering approx. 3 million people in its caption area, and assuming a low-cost airport formula, was discovered very recently. Airport fees for international flights have also been reduced.

Exact location:

In Poland new airports, especially in the eastern part of the country, are needed. There is a range of potential localisations and a wide choice of mostly simple airstrips with runways is available. What lacks, is rather a detailed know-how and whole range of facilities such as air traffic control, passenger terminals with restaurants and lounges, and emergency services.

Generally saying, airports in Poland are perceived to be something of a public service, and initially they were developed according to infant industry argument, that is using taxpayers’ money. This commitment is still vital, private capital in airport business is rare, and local authorities are unsure, whether an airport can be developed using only private finds. However, it is to be expected, that Polish airport market will develop in the future, especially in the context of planned changes in legal acts, that intend to facilitate the use of regional airports for scheduled services.