Łódź will sell (close) the airport – a bad omen for regional airports

Will the airport in Łódź be permanently closed? What warning is this decision for other regional ports and which should be afraid?

News of the day in the  polish tourism industry. Vce mayor of the city of Łódź announced information about the airport’s sales plans. It can be easily concluded from the announcement that the goal is to close it / for passenger traffic and replace the passenger function with a logistics / intermodal hub.

Lodz Airport or the Sisyphean job of looking for an idea to get closer to profitability

Lodz’s poor results in recent years – 2019 saw a slight increase that did not meet expectations. While the year 2020, not too surprisingly, heralded the continuation of the apathy.

The airport in Łódź had to deal with dramatic business challenges since its inception. The proximity of Warsaw / A2 motorway, the airports in Katowice and Berlin and finally the improvement of the railway infrastructure were unnoticeable problems. In the future, it would only be worse. Complete the renovation of A1, the new airport in Radom along with the S12 road and finally the CPK deprive you of illusions. In this context, the officials’ decision seems justified.

It is worth mentioning about trying to find a product for the business. Łódź has a good passe when it comes to bringing large corporations together. Such attempts were undoubtedly the experiments with Adria and later with Lufthansa.

Experiments with Adria and Lufthansa and finally Ryanair

The Slovenian carrier offered a good (twice a day) connection to Munich. The transport results of these trips were not too bad. But the problem was elsewhere. There was no idea how to develop the plane in the gaps between connections to the German hub. And the carrier itself was not the cheapest in terms of costs. Lufthansa did not help either. As it did not offer attractive prices for connections via Munich based on Code-share on Adria flights. It was in her interest to bring passengers to Warsaw.

After the failure of the experiment with Adria. The new port authorities managed to persuade the German carrier to offer a connection with Lodz himself. Here, too, the mistake was at the very beginning. As a connection once a day does not provide a good product for business travelers to Germany (Bosh) or for transfers. The result of this experiment was known in advance.

Finally, there was an attempt with Ryanair. But in this case there was no funding for subsidies for the Irish airline, and without them, the company will not start a significant involvement of its fleet in a difficult market. So there are residual calls that have recently been re-suspended.

Charter flights and the local giant Rainbow operator tour did not help

Charter flights were also a problem from the beginning.  The charter power of Katowice and the proximity of Warsaw turned out to be unstoppable. Even the positive sentiment of Rainbow, whose headquarters is located in Łódź, did not help. There is no discussion with the market / demand.

Charter flights to Israel were also an interesting but lost opportunity.  The Consortium of Polish Travel Agencies fought to restore this connection for many years. Unsuccessfully.

Cargo and a logistics hub are the only rescue

It seems that there was a mistake in the concept of the passenger airport. It was necessary to focus on logistics and cargo from the very beginning. An instructive example here is the Italian Brescia. Which, like Łódź, once had ambitions for its own passenger port, but had to give them up. She looked for a rescue in the cargo specialization.

The Indian business traditionally associated with Łódź, as well as the interest in the Chinese market, could have given an additional impulse to permanently fit into the concept of the new silk route.

This is probably what the city authorities are still counting on. When announcing the sale of the airport, as sharp comments see housing estates here as the only alternative to the airport. May this black prophecy not come true.

The case of Łódź will affect other regional ports? Lublin and Bydgoszcz before the challenges

We have already written how hard it is for local airports to maintain business connections that are the apple of their eye. It was no different in the case of the already mentioned Łódź Munich.

However, the decision of the city authorities is a warning to other airports. The generous hand of local governments may be over.

It will not be easy to have Lublin alive. The closure of the southern bypass of Warsaw, the completion of works on the railway line to the capital will make Warsaw Lublin air operations nonsense. As if that was not enough, the express route to Rzeszów will also be completed. Such challenges will be difficult to fight. Lublin is not and will not be a tourist magnet, even a substitute for Krakow. Therefore, one should not expect increased traffic related to this market segment. Holiday charters will always be under the same pressure as in Łódź (proximity to other airports). Bydgoszcz will not be easier, expressways will also do their job here, and decent rail connection with capital. Bydgoszcz, however, seems to be in a slightly better situation than Łódź and Lublin. It still has some time to find its niche.

The government will lend a hand to the collapse of the regional airports – LOT / PKP they will not make life easier

Certainly, the current government will be able to annihilate less important regional airports. The game is for the future of Radom. Which is nonsensical to anyone who knows a little about the airline industry. But he needs help. A symptom of this action was the allocation of aid funds under covid aid for airports. This approach will not change in the future.

LOT and PKP will also contribute. LOT has already offered bus connections from Łódź under the airline code in the past. However, it was an unsuccessful experiment. Its echo is persuading PKP to launch connections to the airport in Warsaw. Both movements are clearly hostile to the Łódź airport.

In the future, the idea of ​​launching the Rail and Fly service will undoubtedly be revived, and the cooperation of PKP Intercity with LOT on the routes from Lublin / Białystok / Bydgoszcz or Olsztyn will certainly not make life easier for regional airports. In the context of Central Airport, this type of cooperation is only a matter of time.

Undoubtedly, the complete closure of the airport in Łódź would be very sad news. However, it reminds us of how unimaginable it was to open new airports that had no idea for themselves from the very beginning. The scale of their operations should be small/compact, focused rather on private jets, rotors or cargo.

Perhaps profitability could be achieved in these areas. At least the amount of subsidies from local governments would be on a swallowing level. Now, however, it is too late for these reflections.