Vilnius Airport passengers will move to other cities in summer 2017
During the summer of 2017 from July 14 to August 18 Vilnius Airport will be carrying out reconstruction of the runway. Aircrafts will not be landing in Vilnius during the specified period, and communication with Lithuania will be ensured through other air gateways - most of the airlines are planning to move their flights to Kaunas and Palanga for this period. The need for additional infrastructure required to handle the passenger flow from the capital in other cities is currently being estimated.
The runway at Vilnius Airport will be reconstructed from the ground - works are planned in both outside and ground part of it. The last reconstruction of the runway which was built back in 1958 took place over 20 years ago. The specifics of works does not allow them to be carried out at night and without stopping flights - high-quality works will require a little more than a month's time.
"Kaunas will become the capital of Lithuanian aviation in 2017. It is likely that many passengers will choose this air gateway. Such reconstruction of Vilnius Airport's runway was caused by numerous reasons that are perfectly described as "the time has simply come for it". We cannot carry out high-quality reconstruction at night only. In this case we could only patch the runway but we want to pursue sustainable activities.", - says Artūras Stankevičius, Director of Vilnius Airport.
The most favourable date for reconstruction has been chosen having carefully considered various factors as the majority of the works require higher air temperature and precipitation is not favourable for them. For this reason the analysis of weather conditions in 2012-2014 has been carried out indicating that the least rainy days occur exactly in the selected July-August period. Preparatory works starting in spring that will not stop the flights are also estimated to take around 3-4 months.
In preparation for reconstruction, SE Lithuanian Airports has carried out a survey of air carriers - 13 out of 15 airlines currently operating in the capital are going to move their flights from Vilnius to other cities.
"We would like to emphasise that airlines are not undertaking anything officially yet but their intentions give cause for optimism. We are actively communicating with airlines, planning changes in the infrastructure and trying to make the reconstruction period as easy and convenient for both the airlines and passengers as possible", - said Artūras Stankevičius, Director of Vilnius Airport.
Vilnius Airport is expected to welcome almost 4,350 flights and a little over 400 thousand passengers in 14 July - 18 August 2017. Based on the current data, 77 per cent of these flights and 90 per cent of passengers are to be moved to other cities.
In order to handle so many passengers in a convenient manner, it is planned to build additional temporary infrastructure at Kaunas Airport - an arrival terminal, a departure terminal with areas for check-in, aviation security screening, the State Border Guard Service, Customs, boarding gates and other typical airport areas. Parking lots will have to been expanded significantly and temporary parking spaces will have to be built as well. Reconstruction of the existing ramp of Kaunas Airport will be carried out in 2016 providing the sufficient number of aircraft parking stands.
Palanga Airport is capable of handling more passengers without additional infrastructure. Its current throughput capacity is 300 thousand passengers per year, while it is expected to handle half as much this year.
SE Lithuanian Airports are also preparing for other scenarios provided less flights and passengers are moved to other cities, e.g. 75 per cent, 50 per cent or 30 per cent of the total expected passenger flow. Less of temporary infrastructure would be built for this purpose.
The first preparatory works are to commence next year already - reconstruction of primary circuits, replacement and installation of over 100 km of electric cables and 168 wells. The runway will also be reconstructed in stages - engineering networks (power, sewage, and communications) will be built, the clearway will be strengthened in spring 2017.
The old pavement will be removed and the new one will be laid, the lighting and lighting control system will be reconstructed, drainage and rainwater collection systems, etc. will be built in July 14 - August 18. Building completion works that will not affect operation of flights and their safety will be carried out after reconstruction until the middle of October.