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A road in Baranow (image: Google)

Europe’s biggest airport planned – in Poland

A gigantic new hub is taking shape on Europe’s easternmost edge (or in the imagination?), which could one day be bigger than Heathrow.

The chief executive of LOT Polish Airlines has the quiet village of Baranow in mind for the location of a future mega-hub, the business news agency Bloomberg writes.

The tiny place with little more than a manor, a shop, a school and a church could soon be bulldozed and filled with frantic passengers and noisy planes.

The airline’s CEO, Rafal Milczarski, has visions of an ultra-modern hub that serves not only the Polish capital Warsaw, about 40 kilometres away, but the whole of Europe and beyond.

Such a monster would, he claims, have terminals, hangars and runways to rival London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt.

The 70 billion zloty (€16.3 billion) project, a sum that factors in new rail links and highways, would immediately handle 45 million passengers a year.

“Central Europe needs a proper aviation hub,” Milczarski tells Bloomberg. “We are going to be part of planning it and building it.”

The new airport, which would be 15 minutes from Warsaw’s central station by train, is part of Poland’s flag carrier’s ambitions to triple passenger traffic and boost long-haul flights to Asia and the Americas.

100 million pax a year
Construction is set to start in 2021 – after the government acquires the necessary land in Baranow and other villages, with flights to begin in 2027.

Further phases would add runways and terminals to raise capacity to 100 million passengers a year—more than Europe’s busiest airport, Heathrow.

Warsaw’s existing airport got a new train station and terminal in 2012, but it will reach its capacity of 20 million passengers a year by 2022. Around 16 million people passed through it in 2017, a number that is set to rise as Poles and the Polish economy get richer.

“This is the biggest undertaking in the modern history of Poland,” says Mikolaj Wild, the deputy infrastructure minister who is overseeing the project. With its location at the ‘far east’ of the European Union, the airport can be “the gateway from the EU to the east,” he adds.

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