A year ago, with the post “accessibility of Polish airports”, we began the study of Polish airports in terms of travel time and an analysis of the competition in terms of spatial characteristics and the current offer.
Over the last year, we have worked on the technology and methodology of this study, testing different variants, and we have also eliminated certain errors. As a result, we have prepared the present article, the accessibility of Polish airports in 2015. As usual, the raw data regarding the roads has been obtained from the OpenStreetMap, which is, and we are not afraid to say that, one of the best vector databases in Poland. The data obtained refers to the second half of October this year.
Traffic models on the roads may differ, from standard ones to faster and slower ones, taking account of the traffic congestion or not. The results presented here were based on the slightly faster model, not taking account of the road traffic. See traffic model types
Since last year, in order to calculate the accessibility of airports, we have added the airport in Szymany which is due to open in a few months. With the emergence of this airport, the accessibility of air transport in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie voivodeship will increase. The Podlaskie Voivodeship will remain the only province with a longer reach to the airports. On the other hand, the nearby Mazowieckie Voivodeship already has three airports. Although the airport in Radom is facing strong competition, we hope to overcome the negative input or rebuild the functions of the airport, e.g. into strong General Aviation, or obtain a low-cost airline and launch flights to “immigration” destinations.
Apart from the Podlaskie Voivodship, the white spots (the areas of more than two hours’ travel time to the airports) are visible in the eastern part of the Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship and on the edges of the border provinces.
To illustrate the potential of the airports, we have calculated the population in a twenty-minute access zone around the airports. The largest number of the population lives around Warsaw Chopin Airport (2 million), as well as near the airports in Krakow, Katowice and Łódź (approx. 1 million). The smallest potential in this time category has been identified for the airports in Modlin, Goleniów, Babimost and Szymany. In total, the twenty-minute access zones around the airports in Poland are populated by more than 9 million people.
The data on travel time to the airports was used to designate the areas of airport accessibility, i.e. the areas which can be reached in the shortest time – closest points. The largest closest point area belongs to the airport in Szymany, while the largest population lives in the area of Katowice Airport (nearly 5 million) and Warsaw Chopin Airport (slightly more than 4 million.).
We have also calculated the rate of access to airports by province, i.e. the percentage of land and inhabitants of the region in one-hour and two-hour access zones of the airports. Their location was irrelevant here; they could also be located outside the particular province. The largest percentage of the population in the one-hour access zone of the airport lives in Łódzkie, Śląskie and Mazowieckie voivodeships (over 80%), while in Podlaskie voivodeship this percentage amounts to 0.01%. In the Łódzkie Voivodeship, nearly 68% of the area is located in one-hour access zone of the airport. What is more, over 60% of the area is located in Śląskie, Małopolskie and Mazowieckie voivodeships. As usual, this percentage is lowest in Podlaskie voivodeship.
Most provinces have nearly 100% of the population in two-hour access zone of the airports, and only three provinces have less than 99% of the population in this area, i.e. Zachodniopomorskie Voivodeship – 95.5%, Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship – 95%, and Podlaskie Voivodeship – 27.5%.
To sum up, it should be considered whether Poland needs more international airports – we are constantly deliberating on this question. Does our country already have sufficient number of airports? Problems in Radom and uncertain future of the airport in Szymany to be opened soon are calling for a deeper research of demands. On the other hand, only slightly more than one million people live in the area of more than two-hour travel time to the airports, and these are mostly the residents of Podlaskie Voivodeship. The authorities and residents of Bialystok for years have been calling for an airport to be build in that area. Air transport is highly capital intensive and therefore each local authority must carefully check and calculate whether it can be profitable.
The analysis has been prepared on a faster speed model and without taking account of the transport congestion and the impact of the airports of our western neighbors.