The National Council of the Slovak Republic approved on 27. 03. 2019 transfer of part of the state’s ownership interest in the business of Žilina Airport, a.s. in the amount of 65.52% share in the registered capital of the Žilina self-governing region. (ŽSK).
This is a process that started in 2018, when the airport lease plan for 15 years was stopped at the request of ŽSK. Žilina Airport is suffering from several problems, including a short runway, but also obligations from previous periods.
In 2018, the company achieved a loss of approximately EUR 44,000, which is almost EUR 100,000 less than in 2017. Obviously, there is a real chance of reviving the airport, but this is only possible with the active cooperation of business and tourism actors in the region, which in turn will benefit from the externalities that the airport will bring to them.
Some steps have already been taken in 2018, when the training of UT Air Europe / STA pilots took place, cooperation with Czech FlyOnTime, Slovak company Anius a.s. and the development of aviation and steps were also taken to develop non-aviation activities.
The main drawback, namely the short runway and consequently a very small share of charter flights in the total volume of operations and the possibility of serving larger aircraft types, was not addressed due to the financial demands. In the first step, ŽSK plans to extend RWYs by 200 meters, which will slightly help attract potential carriers with larger primary turboprop aircraft. Currently, however, there is a trend of limiting flights of these types and of deploying larger aircraft (e.g., CSA has eliminated ATR 42 aircraft and only the larger ATR 72 aircraft, which is also said to be phased out. Austrian Airlines plans to phase out Dash 8-400 by 2022).
Subsequently, in the second step, it will be necessary to extend RWY even further, build a new turn to TWY, ideally a new TWY, and expand APN. Infrastructure investments such as reservation system, eventually necessary changes within the terminal not to mention.
This is an area where it is possible to significantly incorporate the region that best knows the needs in the area, has cooperation with business entities and can respond more quickly to the needs of the region. For this reason, the deeper involvement of the region can only be seen as positive and we hope that it will contribute to the development of the airport, as is the case in Piešťany, where even with the help of Anius, we managed to attract charter carriers for the 2019 summer season. This is currently not possible in Zilina, but it is possible to build on the flight of the airport by subjects and entrepreneurs from the region and follow up on the first steps already taken last year when LSŽ turned to the main business entities in the region and offered them its services, e.g. also in the area of cargo flights, which could not be performed until then, as the company did not have (or was not itself) a regulated agent.
There are also reserves in the area of the development of non-aviation activities, namely the performance of various cultural, social events, promotions, group performances, etc. and although some steps have been taken, they need to be further developed.