Accordingly, air passenger numbers have also been on the rise. Passenger numbers in Krakow alone grew remarkably by as much as 49 percent. Moreover, it is estimated that within five years, the Krakow Airport could be handling over 5 mln passengers a year, a significant increase from the 2007 figure of 2.37 mln passengers.
In June of this year, the Krakow Airport started working closely with Airport Strategy and Marketing (ASM), a global company specializing in the field of route development for airports. According to John Grant, head consultant of ASM, even though much of the growth has come from low-cost airlines, Krakow has more traditional airlines than any other regional airport in Poland. While serving the traditional sector of LOT and Lufthansa, making Krakow a Star Alliance airport, it is also established as a low-cost market.
Despite SkyEurope withdrawing from Poland, having closed its Krakow base and suspended most of its flights, the rate of progress has not been hindered. Kamil Kaminski, president of the board at Krakow Airport, declares that this change may have, in fact, turned into an advantage for the airport. “Many airlines were interested in filling the gap by establishing new connections and, as a result, passengers have more possibilities from which to choose,” says Kaminski. Moreover, in addition to Centralwings and easyJet forming extra connections, two new low-cost airlines, Transavia and Meridiana, have found their place in Krakow. In a few months, passengers traveling from Krakow to Paris will have the choice between Transavia’s connection to Orly and easyJet’s connection to Charles de Gaulle.
A key element in the development of the Krakow Airport is competition. This is especially prevalent in considering the changing habits and ways of the modern traveler. Increasingly, states Grant, more people in Krakow are taking short breaks to other cities. This occurs as a result of more disposable income, new technologies that make access to air travel easier, and the phenomenon of Polish migrant workers traveling throughout Europe. Consequently, “Today’s traveler is seeking new destinations, new market opportunities and new experiences, and Krakow Airport is very much central for those opportunities,” says Grant. According to Kaminski, while 65 percent of the airport’s traffic is generated by low-cost airlines, passengers can be grouped into three even parts according to reasons for travel: 30 percent for business, 33 percent tourism, and another 33 percent for visitation.
The Krakow Airport recently invested in a new corporate identity and is working actively and proactively with airlines throughout Europe. There are a number of plans for future development of the airport. First, Centralwings intends to grow its business further by basing more aircraft in Krakow, leading to more local employment opportunities and more economic benefits for the city. Next, there is a great opportunity for charter services from Krakow, as charter flights are in increasing demand. Year after year, the Krakow Airport has considerable success in its charter traffic. Last August marked 40,000 charter passengers, double the volume of the previous year. Opportunities include services to Egypt, Greece, and, in the longer term, destinations in the Caribbean.
Finally, Grant explains that, with the growth in passenger numbers comes the need for improvements in infrastructure. The construction of the new terminal, for instance, is urgently required. “The infrastructure developments that are in place, such as the rail service, car park expansion, and hotel development all add to the airport product,” says Grant, adding that Krakow is the only airport in Poland with a railway station. All in all, Grant certifies that, “Everything is either in place or in progress to make Krakow the number one airport in the region.”