Boss of Poland’s planned “mega-airport” fired as new government launches audit

The head of a planned new “mega-airport” and transport hub in central Poland – a flagship project of the former Law and Justice (PiS) government – has been fired and the new government has launched an audit of the plans.

On Friday, the government’s plenipotentiary for the Solidarity Transport Hub (CPK) project, Maciej Lasek, announced that its CEO, Mikołaj Wild, had been removed from his position. Two days earlier, Lasek had dismissed and replaced CPK’s supervisory board.

Wild, a former deputy minister in the PiS government, had served as head of the CPK project since 2019. PiS envisioned the airport, which is to be located halfway between Warsaw and Łódź, becoming one of the largest in Europe.

In July last year, a design concept for the project, which will also include road and rail links, was unveiled. In October, an international consortium of investment partners, who will contribute up to 8 billion zloty (€1.84 billion) in exchange for a minority stake, was announced.

Design concepts for Poland’s planned new mega-airport, prepared by the firm of renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, have been unveiled.

The transport hub, located halfway between Warsaw and Łódź, is forecast to serve 65 million passengers a year by 2060

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) July 6, 2023

No reason for Wild’s dismissal has been announced. However, earlier this month Lasek had said that “urgent changes” were needed in the CPK project, which he claimed had been used as “a smokescreen for the unrestrained spending of public funds left and right”.

Speaking on Saturday, Lasek announced that an audit of the entire project had begun and “based on that we will present recommendations to the government regarding CPK and its individual elements”.

“Unlike [under our] predecessors, [our work] will be based on reliable and complete analyses, but will also take into account the actual situation of the Polish budget” as well as “the economic situation and market needs”, he added, quoted by broadcaster TVN.

Lasek próbuje dyskredytować CPK! Eksperci punktują: Ma już wnioski z audytu, który się nawet nie rozpoczął; To inwestycja wzmacniająca Polskę

— (@wPolityce_pl) January 21, 2024

In an interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP), Lasek added until the audit was complete he could not give any indication about the future of the project. However, he said that current plans for the airport to open in 2028 are “unrealistic”.

He also criticised the fact that, because of the previous government’s focus on CPK, there has been a “stagnation of regional airports”. He said that the new government would encourage the development of such airports, including Warsaw’s Chopin Airport.

“People want to fly from an airport near their home. They don’t want to travel to a large airport by road or rail for 2-3 hours,” said Lasek.

However, speaking to TV Republika on Sunday, Marcin Horała, who was the official responsible for CPK under the PiS government, criticised Lasek’s remarks. He said there was little possibility of expanding Chopin and warned that the audit of CPK may be an excuse for delaying the project.

Po co budować CPK, skoro mamy na horyzoncie politykę klimatyczną UE dot. lotnictwa?

Czy nie lepiej rozbudować Okęcie licząc się ze słabszym popytem na loty?

A może postawić na sieć lotnisk regionalnych spiętych koleją?

M. in. o to pytam pana @MacVVilk:

— Jakub Wiech (@jakubwiech) January 17, 2024

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Main image credit: CPK

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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