Bratislava airport changes into a temporary parking area for aircraft

International air transport might resume in Slovakia in July.

Airplanes parked at the Bratislava airport.Airplanes parked at the Bratislava airport. (Source: SITA)

The M.R. Štefánik Airport in Bratislava, the biggest international airport in the country, has found a new source of finance after being hit by the coronavirus crisis. It has begun to offer parking and maintenance to grounded planes.

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Aircraft parked in Bratislava include the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 planes belonging to Eurowings and Austrian Airlines, one Fokker F70 from Tus Airlines and the Boeing 737 planes of Slovak airlines Air Explore and Go2Sky, the governmental Airbuses and one Fokker belonging to the Interior Ministry with the total number possibly exceeding 70. The airport is collecting approximately €1,500 per aircraft per month for parking. Airport general manager Jozef Pojedinec estimated that the planes would remain there for at least a few months.

During the corona crisis, airport traffic has fallen to 1 percent of its previous total as passenger air transport halted completely. Only flights bringing Slovaks back home, humanitarian and cargo flights are allowed.

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International air traffic has been halted in Slovakia until May 28. As Slovakia’s borders are gradually opening, all types of international passenger transport might be relaunched soon. Doležal indicated on May 27 that air transport in Slovakia is closest to being relaunched at the moment. A committee of experts on Monday, May 25, gave its preliminary consent to relaunching it in restricted mode. However, the permanent crisis team will have the final say on this while it will also be necessary to coordinate these steps with other countries.

“I don’t see any issue with relaunching air transport as soon as we’re given the green light,” said Doležal, as cited by the TASR newswire. “Our suggestion is to resume charter flights with up to 20 passengers for Slovaks.”

While air transport may be resumed in July, it will take months and years until it achieves its pre-crisis level. Bratislava airport used to service 350,000 passengers during July and August.

“We will certainly not achieve these numbers this summer but autumn might be more optimistic,” said Pojedinec, adding that the airport is suffering losses of hundreds of thousands of euros. “It all depends on how fast air traffic resumes at the airport, what further measures will be taken and, above all, how renewed confidence and interest in air transport can be re-awakened in people.”

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