Today, representatives of Prague Airport and the Railway Infrastructure Administration presented a rare deadline collision for key infrastructure airport projects in the development. Trains should start carrying passengers from/to the airport in 2028, and a new take-off runway will be opened in the very same year.
The Czech Chamber of Commerce organized a debate on the future development of the airport. The head of the airport, Václav Řehoř, stated the years 2025 to 2028 as the time of the construction of the new runway. A central security control will be built as well. The terminal will continue to expand after completion of the runway.
The new runway will serve only for take-offs, with the existing main runway serving for landings. The current backup runway RWY 12/30 will be demolished. The condition of opening the parallel runway is then a night operating shutdown.
The head of SŽDC, Jiří Svoboda, will probably have a slightly harder time meeting this deadline. The most problematic section of the railway line runs between Výstaviště and Veleslavín. Although SŽDC has already retreated several districts of Prague 6 and some institutions and agreed to embed the track underground, it has not won yet. “Although it is a relatively deep tunnel, we are still modifying its track,” said Svoboda, arguing that there are always new objections to the proposed tunnel design. Svoboda, on the other hand, reminded that part of the route to the airport is under construction, namely the reconstruction of the Negrelli viaduct. It is supposed to be open the following year on June 1 for the children’s day with a children’s train.
The participants of the discussion agreed that the development of the airport is essential for the Czech economy. Aleš Rod from the Center for Economic and Market Analysis, however, reminded that new capacities are to be built before they become scarce. “We can only assume that the development of aviation will continue. And if we don’t start in time, we’ll miss the train, as in Warsaw, Budapest, and Vienna,” said Rod.
There was also skepticism, especially against the rapid construction of the rail link. “I have experienced the first passionate discussions about the connection from Masaryk Station as a minister. It was 25 years ago,” commented the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the former Minister of Economy Vladimír Dlouhý. The memorandum from 2008, which was concluded by the then Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček and the Mayor Pavel Bém, is still in vivid memory; according to the memorandum, the airport was to be served by train by Christmas 2013.
“Approximately 600,000 Czechs depart from foreign airports such as Dresden, Munich, and Vienna. Two-thirds of them just because they cannot reach Prague airport comfortably,” said the head of the Association of Travel Agencies of the Czech Republic, Jan Papež. “It often happens that the journey to the airport takes more than a flight from Prague to a destination,” he added.
He also complained about the lack of direct connections to some parts of the world, such as Latin America, the lack of services at night or the poor quality of some foreign carriers. “The famous CSA low cost is no big deal,” said Dlouhy.
According to Řehoř, Prague Airport is operating at the edge of its capacity; on average, 75 percent of foreigners and 25 percent of Czechs occupy each aircraft.
Large-capacity trolleybuses should begin to operate airport routes even before the train. Prague´s transportation company wants to launch a tender for them by the end of the year.