Like every year, but this time with the sanitary restrictions of the pandemic in mind, we met with journalists to sum up 2020 and talk about our plans and challenges for 2021. The Minister of Infrastructure Andrzej Adamczyk was invited to the event as a guest of the Management Board of Kraków Airport. 2,592,972 passengers: a 69% drop compared to 2019, i.e. 5,817,904 fewer passengers on Kraków Airport.
"Due to the pandemic, 2020 was an extremely difficult year for Kraków Airport, but also for the entire aviation and tourism industry. This was a time of struggle with the 'invisible enemy’ which has had us revise our plans to keep developing an attractive route network from Kraków Airport, and the plans of the whole industry. Before the pandemic, Kraków Airport handled more than 8 million passengers. In April 2020, we served only 52 passengers, which clearly illustrates the enormous loss the airport has suffered. The current year 2021 will be a time of even greater challenges: confidence in air travel will need to be restored and the potential of our airport rebuilt. We will also need to consistently implement our Investment Plan for the coming years." said Radosław Włoszek, President of the Management Board for Kraków Airport.
“The coronavirus is not stopping Polish investments, and this applies to roads, railways and airports. Kraków Airport has presented ambitious plans for the future. This is an opportunity for further dynamic development of this airport, along with the entire region." – said Andrzej Adamczyk, Minister of Infrastructure.
"Krakow Airport is the first regional airport to have an approved Master Plan after the decision to build the central Solidarity Transport Hub. It is a strategy that sets the direction of our development for at least two decades ahead. We are not withdrawing from those long-term strategic plans also today, at a time of the biggest ever crisis of the aviation industry, although we do need to take into account that implementation schedules of individual investments will have to be adjusted based on the forecast passenger traffic. The development of Kraków Airport will improve the economic situation of Kraków and Małopolska, and it will become the source of post-pandemic stimulus providing jobs in our region and contributing to the recovery of the tourism industry. Also, the organisation of various international events, such as the upcoming 2023 European Games, will increase air traffic to Kraków and Małopolska." added Radosław Włoszek, President of the Management Board for Kraków Airport.
SUMMARY OF 2020
The beginning of the pandemic
From early 2020, Kraków Airport has cooperated on an ongoing basis with the Chief Sanitary Inspector, and complied with all regulations of the Ministry of Infrastructure and recommendations issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
On 15 March, the borders were closed and air traffic was suspended.
After that date, only flights with the rescue flight status were operated from Kraków Airport, and the airport was preparing for the introduction of new sanitary regulations. The granting of ACI Airport Health Accreditation to Kraków Airport as the first airport in Poland proves that Kraków Airport has remained at the forefront of the best airports in the world, ensuring the highest standards of passenger health and safety. The Accreditation granted by Airports Council International applies mostly to areas such as: cleaning technology, disinfection, observance of social distancing rules, protection of airport staff, methods of informing about sanitary rules and other facilities for passengers. Surveys have shown that as many as 90% of passengers positively assess the sanitary regulations introduced on Kraków Airport.
Summer holiday on Kraków Airport
In June, domestic passenger traffic was restored first, followed by air traffic within the internal borders of the European Union.
This year, holidaymakers’ flights to/from Kraków Airport looked completely different than ever before. Passengers would say goodbye to those seeing them off in front of the terminal (because only boarding pass holders could come inside), they had to have their body temperature measured at the entrance, and were required to wear masks while at the airport and on board. Despite the sanitary regime, the joy of being able to travel after a period of lockdown filled up the terminal with passengers again. Between July and September, new holiday destinations were opened as part of the #LOTnaWakacje campaign, and air traffic was resumed to 23 countries: Belgium / Finland / Iceland / Switzerland / Bulgaria / France / Malta / Sweden / Croatia / Greece / Germany / Ukraine / Cyprus / Spain / Norway / United Kingdom / Montenegro / Netherlands / Portugal / Italy / Denmark / Ireland / United States. Between July and September, Kraków Airport served more than 760 thousand passengers.
In July, AirFrance launched direct flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle, which was one of the most anticipated routes to the capital of Małopolska.
In December, Luxair Luxembourg Airlines launched a #flyKRK connection to Luxembourg.
Difficult autumn and winter on Kraków Airport
On 25 October, Kraków Airport started operating on the winter schedule. According to plans, Kraków Airport passengers were to be offered 90 #flyKRK connections to 65 airports. Kraków Airport continuously implemented all the restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as repeatedly updated by the Polish government. Currently, access to the passenger terminal is allowed for all passengers, as well as persons seeing them off or picking them up, who have had their body temperature measured. The requirement to keep your mouth covered both in the terminal and throughout airport infrastructure, i.e. car parks, access roads to the terminal and the internal road system has been maintained.
Investments on Kraków Airport
On 29 October 2020, Kraków Airport received authorization to carry out the investment task:
"Construction of a cargo warehouse with an office section and land development
at Międzynarodowy Port Lotniczy im. Jana Pawła II Kraków-Balice sp. z o.o.". A bigger and more modern terminal will meet the requirements of cargo traffic and allow for the traffic of load-carrying vehicles to be shifted away from the immediate surroundings of the passenger terminal. A tender procedure to select the contractor for this investment was announced in late December.
CHALLENGES AND PLANS FOR 2021
2021 passenger traffic forecast
Industry-wide efforts to ensure travel safety, including sanitary measures, aim to develop uniform standards to help rebuild the air transport market and tourism after the pandemic. However, full or partial opening up of the tourism industry and effective dissemination of the vaccine are a prerequisite.
Air market analysis shows that Kraków Airport can expect to handle 4,250,645 passengers in 2021. Independent studies by aviation organisations such as IATA and ACI have confirmed that passengers will be willing to use air travel after the pandemic situation has calmed down. A common international policy and regulations regarding the opening of borders to air travel are expected to help make this forecast come true.
2021 investment plans
In view of the significant scale of the ongoing losses for the city and the region, further investments will be an effective remedy for the crisis. The airport needs to be modernised because it is an effective instrument of economic development for Małopolska, which is why the strategic investment plans included in the Master Plan for the Kraków/Balice Airport remain valid also amid this biggest crisis in the history. We must not forget that the airport in Balice near Kraków is also used for national defence purposes.
In December 2020, the company's corporate bodies approved an Investment Plan for the International Airport for the period 2020–2028, developed based on the Master Plan for the Kraków – Balice airport approved by the Minister of Infrastructure.
Key investment tasks include
- New runway
- Expansion of the western part of the apron
- Construction of a new cargo terminal
- Extension of the passenger terminal
- Expansion of the internal road system
and construction of a multi-storey car park