Travelers using Warsaw’s Okecie Airport have received more bad news about when the new departure terminal at the country’s largest airport will open.
The Fire Department has refused to issue a safety certificate for the completed terminal because tests have indicated that airport fans would be so loud during an evacuation that passengers would be unable to hear evacuation instructions over loudspeakers.
The Fire Department’s balking on the safety certificate prompted the company that operates the airport, Polskie Porty Lotnicze, to terminate its contract with the Polish-Spanish consortium that built it.
That means the terminal, which was supposed to open in May, may not open until the first of next year. The date for completing the project has already slipped a couple of times because the work went slower than planned.
In addition, a surge in the price of building materials has led to the cost being higher than originally expected.
Cancellation of the contract means the consortium of Ferrovial, Budimex and Lamela may have to go to court to obtain the 650 mln zloty it was to be paid.
Adding insult to injury, the consortium has been paying 250,000 zloty a month in heating and lighting costs since May.
It will take a couple of months for Polskie Porty Lotnicze to find another company to finish the contract.
The good news is that it won’t be a big deal to fix the fan-noise problem. Experts say a high-pitched woman’s voice will be able to be heard above the fans, so the solution involves re-recording the evacuation instructions.
The terminal work started three years ago. Polskie Porty Lotnicze has been under fire during much of that time.
For example, the national government’s contract oversight agency contended that the original bid that Polskie Porty Lotnicze accepted – 495 mln zloty – was too low to cover the work involved.
The agency, the Supreme Chamber of Control, ordered the bid renegotiated. Polskie Porty Lotnicze and the consortium came up with a new figure of 650 mln zloty.
Critics of Polskie Porty Lotnicze’s oversight of the terminal contend that it ordered changes in the original plan for the project that led to delays in finishing it.
In addition, news organizations maintain that the new terminal’s security setup is inadequate and that automobile access to the terminal is not as good as it should be.
Okecie is by far the largest airport in Poland. In fact, more than half the country’s flights originate or end there. In 2006 more than 8 mln passengers used the airport, 15 percent more than in 2005.
The 8-mln figure is more than twice the capacity of the airport when it was planned.