Prague airport seeks development partners

Published: 03. 10. 2023

The Prague airport is looking for partners to help it develop some of the huge, empty tracts of land that surround it. Letiště Praha’s chairman Jiří Pos told E15 “Airport City” should be developed along the lines of those that have built around the Vienna and Amsterdam airports. The state-owned company is currently planning a CZK 30 billion expansion of Terminal II, so it needs to generate cash. Pos figures that by selling, renting or partnering with private investors on real estate developments, he can come up with some of the needed funds.

Along with services for logistics companies, E15 reports that the airport aims to build offices, hotels, congress centers and even health clinics and sports facilities. “In view of the large investments we’re planning for the airport’s infrastructure, we don’t want to bear the weight of these projects as well, especially since we don’t have the know-how for them,” says Pos. “That’s why we want to share them with partners.”

The problem is, thanks to a law from 2009, the airport doesn’t control the land around it. It’s all owned by the state. Which is why Pos is pushing for an amendment to the law that would specify which plots are owned by the state. And which ones he can use for investments. “We’re trying through the amendment to divide the airport into which parts are the actual airport and which parts are just additional land and real estate that can be managed more loosely,” he told E15.

“This type of space around transportation hubs are exceptionally attractive for development,” E15 quotes Zdenka Klapalová (Knight Frank) as saying. “They create a concentration of users, visitors and travelers that appreciate the services and a wide variety of opportunities. In particular, logistics around an airport can expect to pay the highest rent in the sector.”

Prague airport will top out at 13.6 million passengers this year, roughly 80% of the number it handled in 2019. It won’t get back to 100% until 2026, in part because the world’s biggest airlines are concentrating on re-establishing their primary routes. Pre-Covid and before the hot war in Ukraine, Prague was trying to become a transit hub on the back of ČSA’s expansion in the Far East and Russia. Following the collapse of ČSA, Prague will have to depend on the city’s attractiveness as a destination for growth (along with the growing Czech appetite for travel). Warsaw’s plans for the massive new Solidarity airport won’t be competition for Prague, but rather for Vienna, Frankfurt and Munich.

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