It was back in 2006 when Penta Equity Group were first linked to the idea in developing an alternative airport gateway into Prague for the emerging LCC (Low Cost Carrier) market serving the capital of the Czech Republic. Back then the main facility was known as Ruzyne airport and was handling over ten million annual passengers for only its second time. Now, it is known as Václav Havel Airport and is handling over 17 million passengers after four successive years of strong traffic growth.
The recent growth has been mainly driven by the LCC sector which has boosted its share of international capacity from 59.6% in 2015 to around 72% in the three subsequent years and it is still at a level above 70% for the first nine months of 2019. It is, therefore, no real surprise to hear Penta Equity was again talking about turning Prague’s Aero Vodochody airport, once a major manufacturing site for civilian and military aircraft, into a commercial facility.
Penta Equity’s spokesperson Ivo Mravinac believes Prague would “certainly welcome” the establishment of an LCC airport at Vodochody, which 15 km northwest of the city certainly is well placed for the Central European investment group’s planned mission.
The intention then, and again now, was to attract LCCs such as Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air away from Václav Havel, where around one in four seats are flown by LCCs.
But the aspirations to redevelop Vodochody airport have been hit by numerous issues. In 2012 the Mayor of the districts of Kralupy and Vltavou filed an initiative to the minister of the environment, and the European Commission, to prevent the airport’s proposed expansion of Vodochody Airport.
Václav Havel Airport has also presented its own future development programme out to 2035, representing a self-financed investment of CZK27 billion. The airport anticipates long-term average passenger growth of +3% per annum, forecasting it will increase traffic from 16.8 million in 2018 to 30 million in 2035.
There is no specific mention of LCCs, which is possibly what prompted comments that Prague would “certainly welcome” the establishment of an LCC airport at Vodochody.