Lithuanian Airports will open a new chapter with the start of construction of the new departure terminal at Vilnius Airport. According to Arnas Dūmanas, Head of the Operations and Infrastructure Department of Lithuanian Airports, the new terminal will be the most modern terminal not only in the Lithuanian network, but also in the entire Baltic region, and the completion of this project will allow for the conversion of existing terminals to be continued.
“Six years ago, all the predictions pointed to rapid growth in passenger traffic in the future. The pandemic may have pushed back the previous plans, but now aviation has returned to its growth and the needs remain the same, so we want to increase the passenger capacity of Vilnius Airport, which also means providing high-quality and technologically advanced services. The construction of the new terminal is already in full swing,” - said Arnas Dūmanas.
The first passengers of the new terminal will start travelling in 2025
When talking about the pre-construction phase, the representative of Lithuanian Airports recalls 2017. According to him, at that time, the design and technological limits of the existing infrastructure had been reached, which, at that time, still allowed to comfortably handle the growing number of passengers.
“In 2017, Vilnius Airport handled more than 4 million passengers during the year. At peak times, the terminals handled around ten flights or 1,400 passengers per hour. Even then, we were already at the limit of what we could do, as all passengers had to pass through the old terminal, aviation security and check-in procedures. The baggage systems were also no longer up to the highest quality standards. Based on current trends, we could predict that passenger numbers would at least double in the future, so we had to make a strategic decision on how to proceed - either to rebuild the old terminal or to build a new one.” - said A. Dūmanas.
According to him, the possibility of restructuring the old terminal was considered, but there was a lack of space, and the infrastructure was not suitable for the introduction of new technologies. A decision was then taken to build a new terminal next to the old terminal, which would provide a major solution to the problems. In A. Dumanas' view, the reconstruction of the old terminal would have merely absorbed the challenges and would have continued the persistent problems into the future. Moreover, the work would be virtually impossible without slowing down airport operations.
“Both at the consideration stage and today, when we are already in the process of building the new terminal, one of the main tasks remains to ensure that the operations of Vilnius Airport do not come to a standstill due to the ongoing works. We cannot afford to close Vilnius Airport for a few years and then have a new terminal. Our priority has always been to maintain the continuity of operations in the face of works of this magnitude. Although the pandemic forced us to adjust the modernisation plans and the start of construction, the preparations have not stopped, and today we can expect the first passengers to depart from the new departure terminal already in early 2025.” - said A. Dūmanas.
He added that the site has been under construction since the end of 2022, with the building structure expected to be completed within 2023-2024. According to A. Dūmanas, in 2023 we will have the opportunity to touch and feel the new terminal building, and in 2024 most of the technological solutions will be installed, the interior of the terminal and its accesses will be fitted out. Testing work will follow, and it is expected that the first passenger will be able to experience the new departure terminal in the first quarter of 2025.
Next steps will be the conversion of existing terminals
Although the new terminal will be the most modern building in all branches of Lithuanian airports, it will also help to address the mistakes made in the past in the development of the airport and will help to avoid possible challenges in the future. According to A. Dūmanas, the design of the old terminal limited the expansion possibilities.
“Some of the problems of expansion have been programmed in since the existing passenger terminals were expanded in phases to the side of the apron - simply forward, not parallel to the apron, which would have created many of the current problems. It has also limited our ability to expand both the boarding galleries and the terminal as a whole in the way it should be expanded - through an efficient passenger path, through clarity of function. The new terminal solves all these problems and sets the tone for further expansion and reconstruction of the existing terminals,” - noted A. Dūmanas.
The new departures terminal at Vilnius Airport in the near future will ensure the possibility of a modular parallel expansion to the southern part of the airport, as well as allowing the reconstruction of the old terminals.
“While we have been implementing new technological and process improvement solutions in the old terminal, the new terminal set a whole new bar regarding the quality of services and opportunities for passengers. The terminal will have double the capacity of the old terminal. The expansion of check-in areas, the upgrade of the baggage conveyor system and the expansion of the aviation security checkpoints will double the capacity to around 2,400 passengers per hour.” - said A. Dūmanas.
According to the Director of the Operations and Infrastructure Department of Lithuanian Airports, the construction of the new terminal will also allow the expansion of passenger services. For example, the new terminal will have a unified, modern, efficient, and twice as high-capacity baggage system as the old terminal.
The new terminal will also focus on the automation of operations and processes, including a self-service baggage system, where passengers will be able to check in and drop off their luggage without the assistance of a check-in agent, as well as an automated baggage scanning system, which will allow passengers to determine whether their luggage is secure, thus reducing the risk of a human mistake.
Focus on the environment
According to A. Dūmanas, the construction project of the new departure terminal at Vilnius Airport is focused on environmental protection. One of the project's distinctive features is the international BREEAM certificate, which indicates compliance with the requirements of a “green” building.
“This certificate for the new departure terminal at Vilnius Airport will give us an advantage over many of our competitors in the aviation sector, as only a small number of airports can be proud to have this certificate. We have applied the BREEAM certification standards both in the planning of the project itself and in the implementation of measures to ensure compliance at later stages, such as during construction and operation.” - commented A. Dūmanas.
According to A. Dūmanas, the new building will use five times less heating energy than current typical buildings, based on BREEAM standards. It will also be environmentally friendly, with solutions based on renewable energy, such as space for solar panels. These solutions will also contribute to the airports' long-term goal of becoming a climate neutral airport.
“One of the BREEAM certification indicators is climate neutrality, which covers energy consumption for heating and cooling, water consumption, indoor environment, pollution generated, materials used, compliance with the concept of sustainability, waste management, ecology in the design and construction management processes. We set ourselves the highest standards at every stage of the project and aim to become a zero-emission airport.” - stated A. Dūmanas.
Changes to the transport scheme
The new departures terminal at Vilnius Airport will be a completely new passenger experience and quality of service, so the planning of the project takes into account not only the terminal's space, but also its accessibility. According to the representative of Lithuanian Airports, this will also lead to a redesign of the traffic scheme in front of the airport. This will make it easier to navigate the transport economy and optimise the transport system.
"We are currently faced with a situation where the terminal accesses are divided into many sites. Some are for long-term parking, others for short-term parking. The current layout is quite complex, so one of our objectives when planning the new terminal approaches was to optimise the traffic system. The decision was taken to organise a traffic circle in the vicinity of the new terminal, which will increase the capacity of the traffic." - added A. Dūmanas
According to him, the integration of public transport and carriers into the transport scheme will also be a major focus in order to optimise traffic flows. In addition, all the current parking lots will be combined into a single entity, a solution that will double the capacity of the current one.
For all the latest information about the new Vilnius Airport terminal, please visit www.vno.lt/en/new-departure-terminal
Official video presentation of Vilnius Airport's new terminal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JfHIF4k3Es