As the numbers of air passengers are growing in Lithuania, a new airport could be built between the country's largest cities of Vilnius and Kaunas by 2035, the country's Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis says, adding that the final decision is expected in 2022.
"If that large growth in passenger flows continues, we will have no choice as we will need a new airport, and there are plans to build an airport between Vilnius and Kaunas," the minister told a press conference on Monday.
According to Masiulis, the idea to build a new airport between the two largest cities is not random.
"We want to have it close to Vilnius as the main center of attraction in Lithuania, and close to Kaunas to have convenient railway access as the Rail Baltic's Vilnius-Kaunas section would be one of the key elements, if such an airport was to be built, to ensure faster access," the minister said, stressing that no decision has been made yet.
"Such a decision should be made in 2022. If that growth in passenger numbers remains as it has been so far and the airport was to be built, so it would be built by around 2035," the minister said.
Airports also contribute to the rising levels of greenhouse emmissions, increasing the effects of global warming. Lithuania has suffered three years of extreme weather, and broke heat records this month.
Masiulis underlined that the specific location for the new airport has not been announced to "avoid land speculations" and it also might change in the process, or eventually there might be no need for a new airport. Therefore, the costs of building a new airport have not been announced also.
In August, Masiulis said a new airport would not be built yet as it would cost too much. He then provided an estimate of 1.3 billion euros.
In 2017, Dutch InterVistas Consulting hired by Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports), the operator of airports in Lithuania, also considered the possibility to build a new airport in Lithuania.
Vilnius Airport serviced 4.9 million passengers last year, and Kaunas serviced 1 million people.