Vilnius Airport is shutting down for 35 days in summer 2017 to upgrade its main runway that dates back to 1958.
With the country’s biggest airport closed, this may prove an opportunity for Kaunas which will be servicing 400,000 more passengers for the duration, hoping to boost tourism and putting Lithuania’s second biggest city in the spotlight.
“316 days remain until the beginning of the big project. It won’t let us sleep in peace, we can’t wait for it. Vilnius airport will be closed from July 14, 2017, to August 18, 2017. Following that, all the flights should return to Vilnius,” stated the Director of Vilnius Airport Artūras Stankevičius, adding that capital repairs are needed for the runway.
Meanwhile the city of Kaunas is already preparing for the influx of travellers with Karmėlava airport increasing plane parking capacity, plans being made to construct further arrival and departure terminals, parking zones and long term parking garages.
Furthermore, public transport connections between the two cities will be improved with trains making a trip between the two cities 20 times a day and buses coursing 71 times a day. Vilnius municipality will also be looking to establish other departure locations to Kaunas airport beyond just the bus and train stations.
The reconstruction project should cost almost €25 million and increase the capacity of the airport from 3.5 million passengers to 5 million passengers.
Last year, surveys of 15 airlines operating in Vilnius suggested 13 of them were planning on moving their operations to Kaunas or Palanga airports.