Penta steps up pressure over low-cost Prague airport

Foto: MarekV, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The Czech-Slovak investment group Penta wants to go ahead with its plan to transform Letiště Vodochody into a second international airport serving the Czech capital. However, the Czech state does not seem to be in favour of the project, which would compete with the state-owned Václav Havel Airport in Ruzyně.

Illustrative photo: MarekV, CC BY-SA 3.0
Penta’s co-owner Marek Dospiva told the daily Hospodářské noviny on Tuesday that the group was ready to contest the decision of the environment ministry to cancel the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) assessment approval for the airport project.

The group the state-owned plane manufacturer Aero Vodochody, including the non-public airport, in 2006 for the price of 2.91 billion crowns.

The new airport, which was originally planned to open in two years’ time, would target charter and low-cost airlines and could handle up to 3.5 million passengers annually. According to Penta, the state-owned Václav Havel Airport in Ruzyně is not suitable for such low-cost carriers because of its high landing take off and other charges.

After years of negotiations, Penta’s project received the technical approval of the EIA in 2013. However, the new environment minister Richard Brabec for the ANO Party cancelled the assessment a year later, after the ministry began investigating approximately 40 complaints by local municipal leaders.

Opponents of the Vodochody expansion scheme cited concerns over potential contamination of local water supply sources, increased traffic and increased noise pollution.

“I can understand they want to stop the project of a rival airport, if there was a legal way to do it. But they do it in such a way that instead of helping themselves, they are harming the state,” Marek Dospiva, co-owner of Penta, said in an interview for the daily Hospodářské noviny.

“They can make sure that the second airport in Prague does not open, but it might cost them a lot of money”, he added.

Penta has already appealed against the decision of the environment ministry and is now waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court.

The investment group is asking the environment ministry to cancel their latest decision. In case the Supreme Administrative Court dismisses the suit, Penta is ready to sue the Czech Republic for thwarting its investment.

According to Marek Dospiva, the investment group would seek compensation of up to dozens of billions of crowns.