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article imagePoland clears airport plan for takeoff

By AFP     Mar 15, 2017 in Travel

Poland's government approved Wednesday plans to build a large new airport outside the capital Warsaw that it hopes could become a passenger and cargo hub for central and eastern Europe.

Development and Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters that the project foresees the airport serving up to 50 million passengers per year.

That is four times the number of passengers Warsaw's main airport served last year, and would place, and put it in competition with Madrid's Barajas airport for sixth place among European airports according to 2016 figures.

One of the EU's fastest growing economies, Poland has seen rapid passenger growth in recent years. It registered 30 million air passengers in 2015, and estimates suggest this number could double to 60 million by 2030.

Plans call for the new airport to be located between Warsaw and the central city of Lodz and open in 2027-28.

Although the government has not put a price tag on the project, experts estimate it could cost around seven billion euros ($7.4 billion).

Morawiecki cited studies suggesting the airport could serve up to 180 million passengers per year with connections to neighbours Ukraine, Belarus and Russia as well as the Baltic states and the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

That would put it far out in front of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, which was the world's busiest last year at just over 104 million passengers.

Morawiecki also suggested the airport could become an air cargo hub for China's One Belt, One Road initiative, or modern-day Silk Road, for goods exported by from the Asian giant to Europe.

Morawiecki has become the mastermind behind the expansion of state involvement in the Polish economy since the October 2015 victory of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

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