Makeover for VIA terminals

The terminals of Vienna International Airport (VIA or VIE) will be renovated or rebuilt, according to Flughafen Wien AG (FW).

Bosses of FW – which manages Austria’s biggest airport – said yesterday (Tues) they wanted to refurbish or reconstruct VIA’s three terminals in the coming years. They also informed shareholders that the opening of a fourth terminal called Skylink in June would cost FW around 80 million Euros this year. The overall costs of Skylink will range between 750 million and 850 million Euros, according to business newspapers’ reports.

The construction of Skylink started 10 years ago. Expenses of around 400 million Euros were envisaged at that time. The project had to be stopped several times over the years due to immense cost overruns and reports about fraud by investigative magazines.

The Audit Office (FH) checked the claims. State prosecutors are still investigating against previously assigned construction companies. Planners hoped to open Skylink ahead of the European Football Championship 2008. Austria and Switzerland organised the tournament.

The number of airlines which offer connections at VIA could climb from the current 80 thanks to the Skylink opening. FW registered 19.7 million passengers at VIA in 2010, almost nine per cent more than in the year before. Salzburg Airport W. A. Mozart (SZG) – which is Austria’s second-busiest airdrome had 1.6 million passengers in 2010.

FW, which is which is quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG), managed to increase the number of passengers to a new annual record of 21.1 million in 2011. The number of people on flights to destinations in Eastern Europe (EE) jumped by around 15 per cent from 2010 to 2011. The provincial governments of Vienna and Lower Austria are FW’s main stakeholders. Both political institutions have a 20 per cent interest in the business.

FW manager Julian Jäger said yesterday his enterprise might make its interest in managing M. R. Stefanik Airport (BTS) in Bratislava, Slovakia, official soon. BTS is significantly smaller than VIA but poses a significant threat to Austria’s main airport nevertheless. Several no-frills airlines have opted for BTS due to lower taxes and usage charges in recent years. Many Austrian holidaymakers take buses and trains to Bratislava to catch planes at BTS.

Günther Ofner, who cooperates with Jäger in managing FW, said VIA might soon serve up to 30 million passengers. He identified the plan to build a third runway as an essential part of the airport’s long-term infrastructure concept. Jäger stressed that applying to manage BTS would not contradict plans to press on with the construction of the runway. The project is under close scrutiny by local residents and environmentalists.

FW will invest 590 million Euros during the next four years, according to Ofner. The firm initially planned to spend 650 million Euros on the various renovation, extension and maintenance projects at VIA.