Open day at controversial VIA construction site

Managers of Austria’s biggest airport have decided to hold an open day at a disputed construction site.In what is regarded as an attempt to improve the aerodrome’s reputation, Flughafen Wien AG officials said today (Thurs) that the Skylink terminal building site can be visited free of charge between 10am and 5pm on 10 April.Skylink is the name of Vienna International Airport’s (VIA or VIE) fourth terminal. Construction activities started six years ago and the site was set to go into operation ahead of the European Football Championship which was hosted by Austria and Switzerland in 2008. Its opening date was however delayed several times before building activities were halted for almost a year in 2009 amid reports of immense cost overruns in the Austrian media. Weekly magazine profil claimed costs would range around one billion Euros, around twice as much as project leaders had forecast.Herbert Kaufmann was forced to leave the executive board of Flughafen Wien AG – the listed company which managed VIA – last year as a consequence. Gerhard Schmid and Ernest Gabmann, the firm’s other co-chairmen, agreed in a 14-hour meeting last December to leave later this year. Supervisory board chief Christoph Herbst took over as head of Flughafen Wien AG until a new management is assigned.Headhunters are currently trying to sign two or three businesspeople with experience in the aviation industry. Julian Jäger, head of Malta International Airport (MLA or MIA) is one candidate, according to the press.The construction of Skylink was taken up again last year, and Herbst said he was convinced the terminal will be opened in mid-2012. The interim Flughafen Wien AG boss stressed he has been told by project leaders that costs will not be higher than 830 million Euros.Flughafen Wien AG managers said today visitors will have the opportunity to pose questions to planners of the Skylink terminal while they are shown round the construction site on the open day next month.VIA is situated near the town of Schwechat. It registered 1.28 million passengers in January, up by 6.7 per cent compared to the same month of 2010. Around 51 per cent of all flights which start and land at the airport are operated by Austrian Airlines (AUA).