First take off and landing on a newly built runway took place at the Katowice International Airport on Thursday. It is the largest and most important investment undertaking for the airport in its history. The new infrastructure makes KTW the only regional airport in Poland which can accommodate long-distance, wide-body aircrafts with a wingspan of up to 65 meters.
The new 3 200 meter-long runway became operational in the afternoon on 28th of May. It took only 13 hours to transfer the traffic from the current runway to the new one. Between 1:00 am and 6:00 am, the former runway was closed to traffic and aircrafts were not able to take off and land at the Katowice Airport. During this time, one hundred operations, including removal of old signs and lighting and painting of new signs, have been carried out to transform the existing runway into a taxiway.
Between 6:00 am and 7:00 am the airport was reopened for take offs only. A Wizz Air flight to London Luton was the first one, which has inaugurated the operations on the new runway. Seven planes took off from the airport during these 60 minutes.
Between 7:00 am and 2:00 pm the Katowice Airport was closed for the second time and relocation works were continued. A few minutes after 2:00 pm a Germanwings aircraft from Dusseldorf landed on the new runway making KTW ready to handle all scheduled flights.
The new infrastructure enables to accommodate the largest world aircrafts including Jumbo Jets and heavy cargo flights of the highest load capacity. „The Upper Silesia is a huge economically growing region. I think, today we have a product that will be very well appreciated on the market. We already got inquiries from cargo carriers and the PLL LOT plans to launch a new route to Chicago from our airport. Also, we hope to offer new long-distance services even to Latin America in the future” – commented Artur Tomasik, president of the board of the Upper Silesian Aviation Group (GTL), which manages the airport.
The construction works were began on the runway in February 2013 and were carried out by Budimex as the contractor and ILF Consulting Engineers Polska as the supervisor. Over 1 500 specialists and 220 units of special equipment were engaged during the 710 days of construction. The total cost of the investment amounts to PLN 157 million. The project was co-financed from the EU funds. Also, an ILS system of category II enabling pilots to land in reduced visibility will be implemented after a few month of tests.