Václav Havel Airport Prague
Prague’s principle airport currently carries the official name of Prague Vaclav Havel Airport and is named in honor of author and political dissident Vaclav Havel. Havel served as the country’s leader as it transitioned from Czechoslovakia to the Czech Republic in 1992. The airport was previously known as Prague Ruzyne International Airport and still utilizes the airport code PRG. The facility serves the Czech Republic capital of Prague and surrounding area with domestic and international passenger service.
Initial construction of the airport began in the 1930s with the facility winning a design and concept award from the International Art and Technical Exhibition in Paris in 1937. The airport has undergone a number of upgrades and is now a modern facility with all the features standard to an international airport.
Prague Vaclav Havel Airport operates four passenger and two freight terminals. The bulk of commercial passenger service is handled in Terminals 1 and 2 with Terminal 1 serving international passengers outside the Schengen Treaty area. The Schengen Treaty allows residents of about 26 European countries to cross borders within the treaty area without passing through customs. Terminal 2 handles domestic flights within the Czech Republic and flights from within the Schengen Treaty area.
Terminal 3 provides service to charter and private aircraft while Terminal 4 is reserved for government use such as visits from foreign leaders. Terminal 4 is the original 1937 terminal building, which had won awards for design and is maintained for VIP service. Combined, the terminals offer about 70 check-in counters and 27 gates.
The two cargo terminals have a combined capacity of about 160,000 tons per year and provide space for the loading or unloading of three wide-bodied aircraft at a time. The terminals offer secured and climate controlled storage as well as special storage facilities for a wide variety of cargo including livestock, radioactive materials, and highly valuable items.
Prague Vaclav Havel Airport utilizes two runways to handle all flight operations. The longest runway is about 3,700 meters or 12,000 feet long. The secondary runway is about 500 meters shorter. Both are equipped with instrument landing systems and lighting. Planned future expansions include building a third runway parallel to the current primary landing strip. The project has been hampered by financing and other issues including protests from residents within the vicinity of the airport opposed to further expansion.
The airport has a stated capacity of about 6 million passengers per year but is currently serving about 12 million. The new runway could facilitate changes to the air traffic patterns increasing the efficiency of the airport which would allow higher aircraft numbers.
Despite the political issues associated with expansion, Prague Vaclav Havel Airport continues to see about a 2 percent increase in passenger use each year. The number of air carriers serving the airport also continues to increase. The airport ranks in the top 50 of European airports based on passenger traffic. The adoption of the Vaclav Havel name in 2012, at the request of local residents, may have increased the airports acceptance by the region’s residents but its affect on the political scene and future expansions is unknown.