The intention behind the development is to make a smart-operations airport that takes advantage of internet of things (IoT) devices, GPS and sensors to perform planning and operational tasks digitally and actively support operational personnel with their duties in order to optimise and ease passenger flows and airport staff activities throughout the airport.

A modernisation of the terminal and an expansion of the available space are urgently necessary right now due to the advanced age of the existing infrastructure, the demands of airline partners and the need to incorporate the passenger growth realised in 2022 and the growth planned by 2025 in operational processes. This is the only way to ensure that roughly 600 passengers per hour at peak times can be processed smoothly in 2025, a level equivalent to five simultaneous departures on a model timetable.

The terminal’s infrastructure will be significantly relieved through the construction of a multipurpose building. The high construction costs that would be incurred when revitalising the ageing infrastructure on levels one and two of the terminal will be avoided, as the planned new build will incur less than half the costs that revitalisation would per square metre. Consequently, profitability will increase and there will be options for growth.

The construction of a multistorey car park (in two stages timed with the passenger development and expansion into Aviation City) with a capacity of 1,200 spaces by the last expansion stage will be for all users of Aviation City and is intended to help offset the falling prices for aviation and meet the increased demand for car parking. A significant portion of the parking spaces will be permanently leased to clients such as hire car services and businesses at the airport.

A shopping and food and beverage offering set across at least 3,000 square metres will be available for airport passengers and those picking them up and dropping them off. What’s more, additional target markets including tourists, the region’s residents and locals utilising essential services and retailers will increase the share of non-aviation revenue considerably. The trading hours will be based on the airport’s operating hours, making them an incomparable USP.

The demand for air travel rose strongly in the years before the Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to start growing further again over the medium term. Billions of travellers are going to pass through airports (again) each year. In the world after Covid-19, there will be demands to reduce the masses of people at airports. To meet these demands, smart technologies will be used to implement effective passenger, baggage and aircraft handling systems and manage and mitigate health risks better. Nearly all relevant airports in Europe and, most importantly, all airports in Austria – with the exception of Klagenfurt – have infrastructure that has difficulty meeting these demands. The almost non-existent infrastructure at Klagenfurt presents an opportunity to grow with the passenger volumes in the time after the pandemic while not generating ANY unnecessary costs to maintain reserves, as is predominant at many other airports.

The new airport will have GREEN BUILDING, EMAS and DGNB/ÖGNI certification as part of its active contribution to a sustainable future.

An ambitious traffic forecast of 480,000 passengers in 2025 has been made for the core airport area. Based on the new sales and operational concepts, this forecast appears feasible. It is likely that the flights to Vienna will be substituted with railway operator ÖBB’s southern route in the medium term, though this also provides an opportunity for connections to other hubs (e.g. FRA).

The new park and non-aviation areas will form an important addition to the aviation area and will contribute to a significant boost in the appeal of the airport location. Thanks to the planned ‘multiple-user strategy’ for Aviation City, the financial risk for the airport as well as other elements of Aviation City will be considerably reduced while allowing lasting, positive effects to be generated.

What is key is that investments are made now in order to achieve the required growth in passenger numbers promptly and, in doing so, obtain certainty about the existence of Klagenfurt Airport for Carinthians.