Poland should invest in regional airports not transport hub, says Ryanair

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 4:26 AM

By Alan Charlish

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland should scrap plans to spend billions on a huge hub airport in the centre of the country and instead spend some of that money on developing regional airports, a top Ryanair executive said, amid uncertainty over the future of the project.

The new government is re-examining plans for the construction of the Solidarity Transport Hub (CPK), which was envisaged to be operational in 2028, serving 40 million passengers per year.

Construction work has yet to begin and the project has faced criticism over its cost and scale.

However, its supporters say the creation of a huge airport with high-speed rail connections around the country would give Poland an important economic boost.

“What I would say is use a fraction, and I mean a fraction, of that CPK budget to help the local regional airports develop, help them to grow, and the economy will continue to flourish,” Jason McGuinness, Ryanair’s chief commercial officer, told Reuters in an interview.

Investment in regional airports would be positive for Ryanair as it seeks to double its business in the fast-growing Polish market and expand across eastern Europe over the next decade.

McGuinness spoke during a trip to Poland to discuss moving flights to other locations in Poland from Warsaw’s Modlin airport.

Ryanair says that an inability to agree with Modlin management on expanding the airport followed by further unsatisfactory collaboration left it with no option but to further downsize its operations there.

Modlin airport did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

“It’s not quite defined yet, but I would certainly think we are looking at a mid to high teen (percentage) reduction in capacity in Modlin for summer 2024 versus summer 2023,” McGuinness said.

“There will be more aircraft coming out of Modlin and our hope is that we are going to meet with our sensible airport partners… (because) if we take aircraft out of Modlin we want to keep those aircraft in Poland.”

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Mark Potter)