By Graham Newton
Rafal Milczarski, CEO LOT Polish Airlines, has highlighted the extraordinary growth in Polish air travel demand, a demonstration, he said, “of the vitality of the market.”
In a keynote speech at the IATA Global Airport and Passenger Symposium in Warsaw, Milczarski said the future growth of Polish aviation can be achieved in a sustainable way with the right investments and decisions.
In fact, Polish air travel has been posting significant increases for the past five years. And in 2019, LOT is predicting an 11% rise in passenger numbers despite the challenges in European aviation in general.
In 2015, the airline had 41 connections but now boasts more than 100. It has also doubled the number of aircraft and passengers.
It will be the mega-hub that Europe really needs. We are thinking about aviation in a holistic way that respects the environment
As part of its vision to be the airline of choice for Central and Eastern Europe, LOT is building a second hub at Budapest. But it is the new Solidarity Transport Hub in Warsaw, 37km away from the city, that really highlights the carrier’s—and the country’s—ambition.
With government support, the new facility will very much be a transport hub of the future, also featuring Poland’s new central railway station. “It will be the mega-hub that Europe really needs,” said Milczarski. “We are thinking about aviation in a holistic way that respects the environment and minimizes aviation’s externalities.”
He noted that the airline accepts that short distances of a few hundred kilometres might be best covered by a train. And the intermodality will also make every Polish city attractive to investors given the ease of connectivity.
IATA has been consulted on the new facility and Milczarski hoped that One ID and the latest baggage solutions will be implemented by the time the airport opens. “We want an airport that has a seamless customer experience,” he said. “We want it to be the most efficient airport for people to use.”
Solidarity Transport Hub will handle 45 million passengers on opening in 2027.