Central Poland gateway Lodz Wladyslaw Reymont Airport has big plans to grow passenger traffic and sees the opportunity to add more routes across Europe.
Last year, it was ranked the 12th busiest in the country welcoming 207,377 passengers, which was a fall of 16.2 per cent on the previous year, but has set its sights on growth this year and is ready, as has a modern terminal with capacity to serve two million.
In the first quarter (Q1) of 2018, the airport saw 46,513 travellers pass through the terminal, a bit of a decline on the near 57,000 in Q1 last year.
Attracting more scheduled airline routes into Lodz is key, as currently only Ryanair with routes to Athens, Dublin, East Midlands and London Stansted and Lufthansa with a route to Munich operate along with seasonal charters to Antalya and Burgas.
Lodz Airport commercial director, Artur Fraj is though optimistic for the future as Poland is one of the world’s fastest growing air traffic markets and Lodz has a great central location, is close to transport routes and is in a densely populated area with 3.9 million people living within 100 kilometres.
He said: “We are rebuilding the airport as for the winter in 2017/18 we only had three Ryanair destinations but for this summer we opened a Lufthansa connection to Munich and a Ryanair route to Athens along with two charter destinations (Antalya and Burgas).
“Now our offer has something for business clients, as Lufthansa’s service is not only point-to-point but also transfer traffic. Athens with Ryanair is leisure and we have the typical charter flights.
“Our airport has capacity for two million and is prepared with the infrastructure and runway in place. The main problem is how to attract the airlines to us.”
After World Routes last year the airport started negotiations with Lufthansa and within six months had signed the carrier up and Fraj said the expectation after Routes Europe is adding a low-cost carrier to the roster and there was plenty of interest.
“We are talking about a few connections into the UK as this is the biggest market for Poland as in the UK and Ireland there are huge Polish communities so this is for us very interesting, but we are also interested in Brussels as there are huge needs on the market and leisure routes in the south of Europe,” he said.
Polish national carrier Polish LOT Airlines only operates from Warsaw Chopin Airport, but Fraj said he sees the potential for the airline flying domestic services from Lodz to Krakow and Gdansk which “might be interesting” in his view.
Another reason for optimism that growth will come to Lodz in future is the lack of capacity currently at Warsaw Chopin Airport, as the fast-growing Polish air traffic market will need to move capacity from Warsaw to other gateways to meet demand.
Fraj said: “Now in Poland there is huge discussion because from the beginning of summer 2018 Warsaw Chopin issued a night ban, so the airport is closed between 11.30pm and 5.30am and because of the slot restriction and environmental restrictions they are looking for another place where they move traffic from Warsaw to.
“One possibility is Warsaw Modlin, it is the closest, but it is only serving Ryanair and some people are frightened that investing in this airport will somehow go in favour of Ryanair, but it has three million passengers and the capacity is full and needs huge investment to make space.
“The others airports that are preferable to LOT and the PPL – the national company running LOT and Chopin – is Radom Airport, but nobody is serving from there and it is closed.
“The third airport in central Poland is our airport and we can acquire two million passengers without any investment. Radom needs investment of about €250,000 to rebuild and Modlin also needs some investment so normally we will be the first choice.”