Lithuanian Airports, which are actively implementing development projects, presented a long-term master plan for the development of the entire network until 2052. The company, which operates three airports in Lithuania, aims to develop a competitive model for Lithuanian airports, improve efficiency and clearly map out the infrastructure development steps for Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga airports in order to be able to seamlessly handle 17 million passengers a year in the future.
According to the Minister of Transport and Communications, Marius Skuodis, for the first time Lithuania is assessing the potential of the aviation market and the prospects for its future development in such a deep and strategic way, which is a significant and important qualitative change for Lithuanian airports.
"Over the next few years, we are going to see a significant breakthrough - comprehensive changes in the network of Lithuanian airports that will significantly increase the role of air gateways in the country's transport system, improve Lithuania's accessibility and passenger experience, and contribute to economic growth. Some of the projects are now well underway and are progressing rapidly to significantly improve the competitive position of our airports in the region in the near future. However, it is important to keep the momentum going and to anticipate now what we will do next, whether in a few years or a decade or two. This is the question that the Lithuanian Airports' long-term development plan answers today," the Minister said.
International consultants (Dutch company) Royal HaskoningDHV (NACO) have prepared the long-term master plan. The international context, aviation trends and economic prospects were assessed in the preparation of the document.
The team of experts from the Dutch consultancy company that carried out the study analyzed data in different areas throughout 2023, modelled various possible scenarios for the development of Lithuanian airports, assessed their strengths and weaknesses, which, if eliminated or mitigated, would open up new opportunities for the company's development of aviation and non-aviation operations.
NACO consultants have carried out similar studies for Geneva, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok and other airports.
17 million passengers will be served per year in a few decades
The master plan covers in particular the near-term work that needs to be done by 2030 to address the challenges of cramped infrastructure and to ensure an annual capacity of 10 million passengers across the network. In the longer term, it includes solutions to expand capacity at all three airports to serve 17 million passengers.
"As we address today's challenges, we need to think about what comes next. For example, 14 million passengers per year at Lithuanian airports is realistic and based on future modelling, while the optimistic scenario is that we could have as many as 17 million passengers per year in a few decades. With this and other indicators and insights from experts, we need to prepare our infrastructure for maximum capacity. We are now in a position to establish clear priorities, resources, competences and processes. Such a long-term strategic vision will allow us to maximize the load on our network, improve the quality of services, enhance safety and security, comply with the principles of sustainable development, and at the same time identify other operational opportunities," says Simonas Bartkus, CEO of Lithuanian Airports.
The construction of arrivals terminal in Vilnius is to be started
The construction of the new Departures Terminal at Vilnius Airport is only the beginning. When it opens in the first quarter of 2025, it will not only start the reconstruction of the old terminals, but also immediately start the construction of another important project - the new arrivals terminal (T5). This solution will allow for a capacity of 7-8 million passengers not only in the departure but also in the arrival section. This solution will not only ensure convenient baggage pick-up, but will also address another sensitive issue for passengers - the current uncomfortable arrival corridors - and will significantly reduce the excessive movement of passengers between the terminal floors.
The design of the arrivals terminal in Vilnius should follow the modular development logic that has been applied to the new departures terminal. It is envisaged, that the existing terminal infrastructure will be developed parallel to the apron and runway.
The company will also launch this year an architectural tender for the integration of the oldest arrival terminal, with a view to starting the reconstruction work already in 2025. The plan is to stop using this building for arrivals, but to expand the service and retail areas and make the infrastructure more passenger-friendly.
Action recommendations for every airport
The Master plan not only sets out a roadmap for adapting the current infrastructure to accommodate 10 million passengers per year and preparing for 17 million passengers, but also provides suggestions on how the infrastructure can still be made more efficient.
For example, all three airports have areas earmarked for the development of solar farms. Both Vilnius Airport and Kaunas Airport are planning to develop areas on the other side of the runway from the terminals for freight and aircraft repair and maintenance services. At Palanga Airport, the development of commercial and general aviation areas is planned parallel to the runway, on the side of the current terminal.
Synergies with national and municipal plans for the future
Master plans for Lithuanian airports have been closely coordinated with other strategic transport projects in the country, one of the most important being the Rail Baltica railway line. Vilnius Airport terminals are planned to be connected to this project by an underground railway, which means that a rail stop at the capital's airport is also planned to be built underground.
The Lithuanian Airports team actively engaged with other stakeholders during the development and approval of the Strategic master Plan. Vilnius, Kaunas city and district, and the municipalities of the coastal region were also involved in the process. The plan was presented to them and to the wider aviation community. Representatives of the municipalities were consulted on how the airport development projects fit in with their future plans. This was one of the priorities in the preparation of this Strategic Master Plan, to ensure that the development of urban infrastructure and airports go hand in hand and bring the best possible economic and social returns.
"The capital, home to the country's largest airport, has a natural interest in ensuring that the routes supported by the state are as targeted as possible and that the planes landing in Vilnius are as full as possible. We are working to ensure this demand, both through the flight incentive model we have implemented since this year and through infrastructure improvements in the city. For example, we plan to initiate the reconstruction of the two-level intersection of Tūkstantmečio St., Žirnių St., S. Darius and S. Girėno streets in 2024, with a missing link from Žirnių Street to S. Darius and S. Girėno Street," says Vilnius Mayor Valdas Benkunskas.
From 2025, after the completion of the current departure terminal of the capital airport, it is planned that investments of around €180 million could be made in the reconstruction of the existing terminals and the construction of new terminals until 2052.
At Kaunas Airport, further investment in new terminals from 2025 to 2052, following the completion of the terminal expansion to be launched in the coming months, is estimated at around €50 million.
Investments in the terminals at Palanga Airport up to 2052 could amount to around €20 million.
To see the long-term master plans, please visit the dedicated subpage: https://www.ltou.lt/en/corporate/master-plans-2052