State firm behind Poland’s planned “mega-airport” donates 400,000 zloty to local church

The state-owned firm responsible for building a planned new “mega-airport” in central Poland – a flagship project of the former Law and Justice (PiS) government – has donated 400,000 zloty (€92,000) to a local church.

The official appointed by the new government to oversee the project has criticised the move and announced an audit of the firm. But his counterpart from the time PiS was in power has defended the donation.

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

The donation was announced on Wednesday by the parish priest in Wiskitki, a town near the site of the planned airport, which is located around halfway between Warsaw and Łódź and is known as the Central Communication Port (CPK).

“It is with great satisfaction that I inform the faithful of the parish in Wiskitki that the Central Communication Port company donated 400,000 zloty for religious purposes to finance the renovation of three side altars in the church in Wiskitki,” wrote the priest, Witold Okrasa.

“This renovation is 100% sponsored by funds from the CPK company,” he added.

A spokesman for CPK, Konrad Maksyk, confirmed to broadcaster TVN that the donation had been made as part of efforts by the firm to cultivate good relations with local communities.

“As a responsible investor, we want to carry out our tasks in an atmosphere of dialogue and in good relations with residents, which is why we are running a support program for the areas covered by the investment,” said Maksyk. He noted that this policy had been approved under the former government.

“In this specific case, the parish priest in Wiskitki asked CPK to finance the renovation of three neo-baroque altars, which are part of a historic church that is part of the region’s cultural heritage,” added the spokesman.

Duży przelew z CPK na remont kościoła. Spółka wyjaśnia

— Tomasz Orłowski (@TomaszOrow35881) January 11, 2024

However, the donation was criticised by Maciej Lasek, who is a deputy minister for funds and regional policy in the new government, which took office last month, and is also the government’s plenipotentiary for the CPK project.

“During my meeting with the president of the CPK company, the board was given unequivocal instructions not to make decisions at this time resulting in the spending of public money,” Laski told the Gazeta Wybrocza newspaper.

“We are now seeing further proof that the mythology of the great CPK project, which has been painstakingly built up over the last few years, is just a pretext, a smokescreen for the unrestrained spending of public funds left and right,” he added.

A Franco-Australian consortium has been named as the investment partner in Poland’s planned „mega-airport”. It will contribute up to €1.8 billion

But the likely new opposition government has expressed scepticism about the project and pledged to review it

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 24, 2023

Lasek said that “urgent changes are needed in the company” and announced a detailed audit of its activities. He vowed that those responsible for taking money out of the company, particularly for purposes unrelated to investment activities, will face legal consequences.

But CPK’s spending was defended by Marcin Horała, a PiS MP who when his party was in power served as the government official responsible for the project.

“CPK, like any responsible investor, runs a support program for the areas covered by the investment,” wrote Horała on X. He noted that the firm had supported a range of local initiatives, such as the construction of playgrounds and purchase of equipment for local fire stations.

CPK jak każdy odpowiedzialny inwestor prowadzi program wsparcia dla terenów objętych inwestycją. Wspieraliśmy budowę placów zabaw, wypoczynek letni dzieci i młodzieży, zakup sprzętu dla OSP, remonty i budowę dróg lokalnych, budowę lądowiska dla helikopterów w szpitalu, zakup…

— Marcin Horała (@mhorala) January 10, 2024

CPK – which will comprise both an airport and wider transport hub made up of train and road connections – was a flagship project of the PiS government, which envisioned it becoming one of Europe’s largest airports and a boon for the Polish economy.

Last year, design concepts for the project, created by Foster + Partners, were unveiled and an international consortium of investment partners in the project was announced.

However, the new government that came to power last month has expressed scepticism about the plans, promising to carry out a thorough audit of how money has been spent so far and where it will be spent in future.

The Polish government’s planned mega-airport was conceived by “very stupid politicians”, says the CEO of Ryanair, Poland’s biggest airline by passenger numbers.

The head of the project says it would be a „waste of time” to respond to O’Leary’s comments

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) February 9, 2023


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Main image credit: SylwiaP84/WikimediaCommons (under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Agata Pyka is an assistant editor at Notes from Poland. She is a journalist and a political communication student at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in Polish and European politics as well as investigative journalism and has previously written for Euractiv and The European Correspondent.

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