First time for a larger European airport to be replaced by a smaller one

At the Vilnius Airport
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

On July 14 the Vilnius Airport will begin its runway reconstruction which will last 35 days. If all planned work is completed earlier, the airport will still reopen as planned – on August 18, the Aviacijos Pasaulis writes in

Some members of Seimas have proposed to delay the beginning of work because of apparently lacking preparations. But it would appear they did not consider the potential consequences if such a project was delayed and demonstrated a sort of illiteracy, creating confusion at the last moment and a new wave of debate. As the saying goes – dogs bark, the caravan proceeds.

The Vilnius Airport reconstruction was discussed with Lietuvos Oro Uostai executive director Donatas Voveris, who is managing the project.

The director was critical of politicians’ statements on the reconstruction preparations. He stresses that preparation work began over two years ago and all stages of work are fully prepared and planned out. Voveris jabs at the politicians, noting that healthy work tension already suffices.

Preparatory work for the reconstruction began on March 30, with intensive work to begin on July 14. According to the executive director of Lietuvos Oro Uostai everything is proceeding as planned, with Latvian A.C.B. and Lithuanian UAB Autokausta performing the reconstruction alongside another 10 subcontractors.

Regarding the unique nature of this airport reconstruction, D. Voveris explains that this is the first time in Europe when the work of a larger airport is transferred to a smaller one, an unprecedented case. He provides other recent examples of similar reconstruction works in Italy’s Bergamo Airport which halted the airport’s operations for more than 2 weeks or the Austrian Klagenfurt Airport which was closed for three weeks, while the Varna Airport in Bulgaria closed for an entire 4.5 months. Voveris stresses that the scales and works of reconstruction vary airport to airport.

When queried about the concerns of airlines and passengers in regard to the transfer to Kaunas, D. Voveris responds that only one airline – Ryanair – did not transfer its flights to Kaunas, instead cancelling flights from July 1 to September 1. He outlines two major concerns that have been expressed – namely whether Kaunas Airport will be able to handle the large influx of passengers and the transport opportunities from and to Kaunas Airport. He assures that Kaunas will be able to handle both, furthermore pointing out that connection opportunities from Kaunas are good and further measures, such as extra bus routes, have been taken to ensure that passengers do not experience any inconveniences.

According to the executive director of Lietuvos Oro Uostai, the entirety of the Vilnius Aiport runway is to be renewed, with four new layers of coating, new electrical wiring and water runoff systems. Other than such renewals, the engineering of the construction will not change, the runway will retain its 4E (long and wide) category as before, with the airport retaining its RFFS category 7.

D. Voveris assures that reconstruction works will be completed as planned, with flights resuming on August 18. He explains that the timing was based on long term weather forecasting, during a period typically featuring low rainfall and few temperature changes.

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