Prague's Václav Havel Airport handled a record number of passengers last year. The airport registered over 12 million arrivals and departures, an increase by 7.9 percent compared to 2014 and the highest increase in the past decade. The numbers are expected to increase even further this year with the introduction of new regular long-distance flights. Ruth Fraňková has more.
Václav Řehoř, the chairman of the Czech Aeroholding, which is the sole shareholder of Prague Airport, attributes the growth mainly to a new discount and incentives program for air carriers. He told Czech Television that he expected the numbers to go up even further:
“The current capacity is around 15 million passengers and we can only reach this number if Prague remains attractive for foreign tourists. As far as Czech tourists go, their numbers keep growing and we want to introduce incentives to maintain them. We believe we could reach some 12.6 million passengers next year and the following year depends on the recently introduced lines to China as well as on the new link to Dubai.”
Last year saw the arrival of eight new airlines on the Czech market and the introduction of 27 new routes. In 2016, new flights will connect Prague with China and North America, while the Emirates carrier will start using the Airbus A380, the world’s biggest transport aircraft, on its route to Prague.
Rather than a transfer point, the Václav Havel Airport is also increasingly being used by passengers as an initial or a final destination. In 2015 the trend of direct passengers was up by 7.1 percent compared to the previous year.
And according to Václav Řehoř, the airport no longer has a reputation of being one of the most expensive in Europe:
“In the last year and a half, we managed to agree with our business partners on a 40 percent discount on some of the products and services offered at the Prague airport. We have also lowered prices at the parking lot, so people can leave their car at the airport while going on holiday.”
The vast majority of passengers from Václav Havel Airport, have traditionally travelled within Europe, which accounts for over 90 percent of the overall operation. Flights to the Middle East contributed to 3.4 percent of the overall total while 3.2 percent of flights were for destinations in Africa.
The highest number of passengers, nearly 13 percent of the total, travelled between Prague and the UK last year. German destinations accounted for 9.7 percent and the total and Italy accounted for 8 percent of the share.