Today, the Polish village of Baranow has a general store, a school named after Pope John Paul II, and a church. But if Rafal Milczarski, the CEO of LOT Polish Airlines SA, has his way, it will be the new seat of a new modern airline hub.
As reported by Bloomberg, Milczarski envisions terminals, hangars, and runways – a 70m zloty project – to handle 45 million passengers a year and rival Heathrow in London, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, and Schiphol in Amsterdam.
“Central Europe needs a proper aviation hub,” Milczarski says in his office at state-owned LOT’s current home base, a cramped air facility named after composer Frederic Chopin that opened in 1934. “We are going to be part of planning it and building it.”
Construction is slated to begin in 2021, after the government acquires the land in Baranow and nearby towns, and flights will begin in 2027.
According to Bloomberg, the plan dovetails with the nationalist agenda of the ruling Law and Justice party.
“It’s the biggest undertaking in the modern history of Poland,” says Deputy Infrastructure Minister Mikolaj Wild, who is overseeing the project. Given its location on Europe’s eastern flank, the airport can be “the gateway from the EU to the east.”
However, critics (which include the residents of Baranow) say the money would be better spent on highways, rail lines, and updating Chopin and another airport 40km north of Warsaw that’s served by Ryanair.
Bloomberg reported that first phase of the project will cost 35bn zloty, or more than 10% of this year’s national budget.
While some part of that would come from the EU, the government says it’s also likely to take on debt.