VIA hit by leaked RH Skylink report

Vienna International Airport (VIA) decision-makers are under fire after details of an Audit Office (RH) investigation into the delayed construction of a new terminal were revealed.Viennese daily Kurier reports today (Mon) that bosses at Flughafen Wien AG – the firm which manages the airport – failed to react instantly when first technical difficulties with submitted concepts were discovered shortly after the Skylink project got the green light in 2005.The newspaper claims that the RH report shows that VIA officials only handed over the mistake-laden concept for indoor technical appliances to a new consortium instead of briefly delaying the building process to start a new Europe-wide tender.Neither the newly assigned planning crew nor their staff managed to cope with the many errors the bungled initial strategy of a Viennese firm contained.Flughafen Wien AG board member Christian Domany was sacked following leaked information suggesting that costs to build Skylink could double from the initially announced 450 million Euros.Skylink would be VIA’s fourth terminal. It was set to start operating for the European Football Championship co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland in 2008.VIA officials said earlier this year they will manage to open Skylink in the first half of 2012. Flughafen Wien AG supervisory board chief Christoph Herbst said recently he had been assured by the airport’s board costs would not surpass 830 million Euros.Board spokesman Herbert Kaufmann defended the decision to assign a new consortium without changing technical appliances to the concept. “We have the best experts in the construction industry on board,” he said today.Kaufmann stressed the Flughafen Wien AG board would take the preliminary RH findings “very seriously. It contains a lot of advice we have already considered, with further ones we will consider.”He said it was important to await the final report to discuss the issue.Several offices and homes of businessmen involved in the project have been raided by investigators during the past few months.Business newspapers already say Skylink is one of the biggest Austrian post-war scams regardless of what the final RH report holds.Skylink and RH’s findings may also affect the 10 October Vienna city parliament election since the city of Vienna and the province of Lower Austria both hold a 20 per cent stake in Flughafen Wien AG.Vienna Greens leader Maria Vassilakou accused the Viennese department of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) of trying to sweep the topic under the mat considering the ballot.”Hundreds of millions of Euros were blown out of the window,” she said, while Freedom Party (FPÖ) official Norbert Hofer accused the Flughafen Wien AG board of “having acted completely irresponsibly”. Hofer also said Kaufmann must “resign immediately”.Vienna SPÖ official Siegfried Lindenmayr dismissed the statements as “hot air created in election campaigning”, adding that a publication of the RH report would be a breach of law.The Social Democrats rule with an absolute majority in Vienna after garnering 49.1 per cent in the 2005 vote. This result gave the party of Mayor Michael Häupl a majority of seats in the city parliament.The Vienna branches of the FPÖ and the Greens announced plans to call in a special summit in the city parliament to debate the alleged Skylink building blunders.Häupl promised there will be “consequences” if RH finds out that wrong actions have been carried out by VIA decision-makers. The mayor stressed he will not act “based on prejudgements”.Lower Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Governor Erwin Pröll declined to comment on the issue.VIA registered 8.9 million passengers in the first half of this year, up by 5.5 per cent compared to the same time span in 2009.Flughafen Wien AG’s net profit soared year on year by 11.6 per cent in the first half of 2010.