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  • Michał Słojewski

Polish CAA about the future of Polish sky

Forecast for Poland for the Years 2022-2040


  • In 2040, Polish airports will serve approximately 130% more passengers than in 2022.

  • Five regional airports and the "Warsaw agglomeration" ports will handle 97% of the traffic.

  • In 2040, Rzeszów, Lublin, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, Szczecin, and Olsztyn-Mazury will share the remaining 3% of the traffic among themselves.

  • Catastrophic situation in overflight traffic over Poland


These are the main messages from the study "Air Traffic Forecast in Poland for the Years 2022-2040," presented on September 11th at a press conference organized by the Civil Aviation Authority regarding the prospects for the development of air transport in Poland.


The document, prepared in collaboration with scientists from the University of Gdańsk, assumes an average annual growth in passengers served at the level of 7% per year in the indicated years. During the conference, representatives of the University of Gdańsk, Prof. Anna Zamojska and Prof. Dariusz Tłoczyński, discussed the methodology used and its limitations.


The farther you go the less you know

The overall figures presented in the "Forecast for the years 2023-2040” do not raise any doubts and are covered by the values presented in other documents, e.g. IATA forecasts for the Central Communication Port prepared in 2022. However, doubts arise only about the details and interpretation of the presented data.


The President of the Civil Aviation Authority, describing trends in aviation, emphasized the increasing use of larger aircraft by airlines and the optimization of passenger seating within them. Airlines operating in Poland are moving away from smaller aircraft types, and new models still in use carry significantly more passengers. Consequently, the decline in the average number of passengers per flight from 120 in 2023 to 118 in 2040, as indicated in the numerical data of the "Forecast," is a cause for concern. According to the prevailing trend in the industry, the tendency should be the opposite, even reaching double-digit percentages.

In the air traffic forecast presented by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority, the term "Warsaw agglomeration" was used. However, it was not specified which airports are covered by this name. While it can be assumed with a high degree of probability that Warsaw Chopin Airport and Modlin Airport are included, the inclusion of airports in Radom, Łódź, and the Central Communication Port remains a mystery. Until the time of publication, PolskaSky has not received a response to the request sent to the press office of the Civil Aviation Authority for clarification on this matter.


As pointed out by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority, the study did not cover airports that served less than 1 million passengers in 2022. This means that the "Forecast" did not take into account airports in Rzeszów, Lublin, Łódź, Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, and Olsztyn. A similar situation may apply to Radom Airport unless it had the fortune to be included in the mentioned "Warsaw agglomeration." It is puzzling why the analysis of 6 (7) airports was omitted in a document that could potentially form the basis for the country's aviation transport policy in the future.


During the meeting, a comparison was also made between the current capacity of airports (2022?) and traffic forecasts (base and high scenarios) for 2030. The President of the Civil Aviation Authority emphasized that the capacity of airports from 2022 does not meet the market's needs forecasted for 2030.


En-route Catastrophe

The conference ended on a strong note unrelated to the title work of Gdańsk scientists. The President of the Civil Aviation Authority presented and discussed the forecast for en-route traffic for 2023-2029. Data prepared by Eurocontrol indicates that en-route traffic will not return to the values of the record year 2019, reaching only 90% of the above in 2029.



The President of the Civil Aviation Authority emphasized, addressing airspace users, that such low forecasts will result in a significant increase in the en-route service rate for the years 2025-2029, which is expected due to EU regulations. At the same time, he did not indicate how much reduction in terminal rates carriers can expect due to the increase in traffic at Polish airports.


Conclusions

The data presented in the "Forecast for Poland for the Years 2022-2040" and the annual growth of 7%, combined with the indication of a collapse in the transit segment of the Polish aviation market, may indicate significant optimism on the part of the creators of the study. Otherwise, Polish regional airports and the "Warsaw agglomeration" will face an extremely intense 18 years.


The concerns of airlines, but not only them, should be raised by the announcement of an increase in carriers' costs for the Polish institution providing air navigation services. Further increases in en-route rates, with air traffic accounting for 80-90% of 2019 operations (a record year in terms of air traffic in Polish airspace), may imply the aviation authority's acceptance of the lack of cost optimization efforts, particularly in the provision of en-route air traffic control services by Polish ANSP. This signifies an acceptance of the "reverse" cost efficiency.

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