Prague's Ruzyne Airport officially opens new North 2 terminal

Photo: CTK

We seem to be forever hearing about records being broken at Prague's Ruzyne Airport, with more and more passengers and flights every year. Ruzyne is well on its way to becoming the biggest airport in the central Europe region, and a major step in that expansion was the official opening on Tuesday of its new North 2 Terminal.

President Vaclav Klaus and Hana Cernochova,  photo: CTK
The terminal was opened by the president, Vaclav Klaus.

"My first impression is that Ruzyne is just as good as airports you see elsewhere in the world. And compared to how it looked here ten years ago the difference is absolutely huge. So let's hope everything works OK."

Ruzyne's Airport general director Hana Cernochova spoke proudly at Tuesday's opening ceremony.

"Its architectural beauty and technical standards will definitely contribute to the good name of the Czech Republic and the city of Prague, because it's the first thing that many foreign visitors see. We hope we can be a kind of shop window for the country. The basic colours we've used here are red, white and blue - we want to say we're the national airport, that's why we've used the national colours."

Photo: CTK
As for the capacity of the newly expanded airport, that's a more flexible concept than you might think. Hana Cernochova again.

"Right now we are increasing capacity by four million, but there's a great difference between real capacity and technical capacity. Our original terminal had the capacity to handle 6.5 million, but despite that we handled almost 11 million last year. We can increase numbers by adding more sorting machines, luggage carousels and check-in counters, so capacity could reach up to 15 million. And we will probably build another new terminal between 2015 and 2020."

Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky,  photo: CTK
Of course an increase in passenger numbers puts more pressure on transport into the city - that's something that needs to be addressed, says President Klaus.

"If they are really working towards a day when the airport will handle 20 million a year, I think the road from the airport won't be able to cope with those numbers. So Prague is faced with the task of dealing with this issue."

And a plan to extend Prague's metro system as far as the airport, discussed for many years, is on its way to becoming a reality, after being approved by the city's authorities. They are hoping some of the costs - estimated at over a billion US dollars - will be met by the European Union.