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Infrastructure: The important airports of Romania are close to the traffic limit and need massive investments for extension

The main airports of Romania will not handle traffic any more in the years to come, due to an accelerated growth of traffic of passengers if ample works of modernisation and extention of the airport infrastructure is not done immediately and the interference of the political world in this domain does not decrease, as there is a deficit of specialists employed as leaders and the passengers traffic is expected to increase this year by at least 12%, according to the specialists consulted by News.ro.

The number of passengers who transited the airports of Romania increased last year by 23.5% up to 16.39 million passengers out of whom over two thirds went through airport Henri Coanda, according to the data published recently by the National Institute for Statistics (INS).

The main engine of this advance is represented by the extension of the low-cost air traffic. The first two players on the market of air travel Wizz Air and Blue Air transported last year over nine million passengers. For this year, Blue Air estimates a growth of 13% of the number of passengers transported up to 4.05 million.

At national level, for this year, the passengers traffic could increase by 15% on airport Henri Coanda and over 12% at national level, according to sources consulted by News.ro.

‘In the first two months of this year I observed a significant growth of the traffic and 20% on some airports. We estimate an advance of over 12% at national level, which means that it is possible that we reach 19 million passengers at the end of the year’ stated the consulted sources by News.ro.

The airport of Cluj, the second in the country, estimates a number of three million passengers this year, an advance of almost 60% against 2016 when there was 1,88 million passengers.

‘The international airport Avram Iancu Cluj consolidates the second position in the ranking of the Romanian airports, and the plans for development of the airport do not stop here especially for this year 2017, there is an estimate of traffic of 2.7 -3 million passengers’ stated the representatives of the airport at the request of News.ro.

The airports of Romania are owned by the ministry of transport – the caseof the airports in Bucharest – or the local administrations, as it is the case in Cluj.

In January this year, the County Council Cluj announced that authorisations were issued for the construction at the international airport Avram Iancu of Cluj, of a platform for the parking of the aircraft and the modernisation of the departures terminal.

In this context, of an increased growth of the passengers traffic, the airports of Romania including Henri Coanda next to Bucharest need investments and specialists, in parallel to a smaller interference of the political world in this sector, stated for News.ro the chairman of the Association of the Pilots and Owners of Aircraft in Romania’ (AOPAR) Radu Merica.

‘There is political interference in this domain. The political management does not lead to good results, to development, we need professionals in aviation and allowed to do their job. There is acute lack of specialists in the domain of infrastructure and those who are, are not employed politically’ Merica said.

He considers that new terminals must be built on the majority of the airports, as Henri Coanda is the only airport where there are modern post for the handling of passengers.

‘There should be a political vision at national level in this sense, in the context where all airports are owned and administered by the state. Nominations at the leadership of the airports is politically made’ Merica said.

He warned that, several times, there are short-term solutions applied as there is no long-term approach, but these solutions and on a long term run there are more expensive. Thus, there started to appear issues, even on the largest airport of the country Henri Coanda at peak times.

‘For Henri Coanda I proposed the solution to build a new terminal. In December, on Henri Coanda I waited one hour and a half. There are, at peak times, areas of jamming of the traffic, at security filters, at passport controls’ explained Merica.

For this year, the heads of the National Company Airports Bucuresti (CNAB) must implement certain measures through which they reduce the waiting time at checking points on Henri Coanda, according to the specialists.

Other needs, at national level are connected to the increase of the regional mobility through the development of the airport infrastructure, the increase of the capacity of the airports in correlation with the traffic demand and the protection objectives of the environment.

Thus, even if they are well distributed at territorial level, the regional airports of Romania of Timisoara,Cluj, Targu Mures.Baia Mare, Iasi, Suceava or Bacau do not have the necessary infrastructure and facilities for catering for big aircraft and increase passengers traffic, as it is estimated for the 10 years to come, warned the representatives of the airport in Cluj, the biggest outside the capital city.

‘ Investments in airport infrastructure are connected to the drawing of air operatos and passengers. The airports in Arad and Baia Mare did not have passengers last year, according to the data of Airport Association in Romania. The airport in Baia Mare is under renovation according to the latest data, while airport in Arad was left without regular flights in 2015 when the low-cost operator Wizz Air decided to leave’ said the representatives of the airport in Cluj-Napoca, for News.ro. According to them, in general, the problems connected to the airports in Romania are due to the age of the infrastructure and the insufficiency of the infrastructure objectives against the existing traffic.