Warsaw Chopin Airport
Warsaw Chopin Airport is located just a few miles from the center of Warsaw in the Wlochy District. It is the busiest and largest airport in Poland and handles over 43 percent of all air traffic in the country. It regularly receives flights from around the world. The airport was originally named the Okecie International Airport after the neighborhood where it is located. The name was changed in 2001 in order to honor the famous composed Frederic Chopin. The name change has not been embraced by local residents of Warsaw or many pilots. The airport is still commonly called Okecie.
History of Warsaw Chopin Airport
The airport was first established in 1934. The original facility had a very modern design that included a post office, police station, and a large elevated mezzanine. The airport became a popular hub for international flights that were arriving from Europe and the Middle East. The airport suffered major damage during World War II. It was used as a battleground during the war. The facility was occupied for years by the German Army. During the German retreat from Poland, the airport was intentionally bombed and destroyed. Reconstruction started after the war ended although there would not be a passenger terminal again until the 1960s.
The runways and one passenger terminal were rebuilt in 1969. Global political issues negatively affected the number of passengers and flights that were moving through the airport during this period. The airport started to see a sharp increase in traffic after the political situation in the region became calmer in the early 1990s. A second terminal was built during this time. The airport was prepared to handle 1 million passengers each year. The reality is that the number of passengers grew exponentially during the first half of the 1990s. This resulted in constant changes and upgrades that were designed to ease the congestion caused by the over 6 million passengers that were arriving at the airport each year at the end of the 1990s.
The current Warsaw Chopin Airport contains a single large terminal. Terminal A was formed by linking two previously freestanding passenger terminals into a single facility. There is a third smaller terminal in the southern area of the airport that is undergoing construction although there are plans to eventually connect the satellite location to the main building. Terminal A is divided into five separate concourses. There are a total of 45 passenger gates available. Only 27 of these gates have jetways.
The airport has two main runways that intersect in the center. The longest runway is over 12,000 feet long and 196 feet wide. The shorter runway is 9,100 feet long and 164 feet wide. Both have an asphalt surface. The airport maintains 21 taxiways for planes. This allows more than 30 takeoffs or landings to be performed every single hour. An advanced guidance system is installed on the runways to help pilots during periods of poor weather or low visibility.
Warsaw Chopin Airport served over 9 million passengers in 2011. The number of annual visitors arriving at the airport has been increasing significantly almost every year since 2005. More than 116,000 aircraft landed or departed from the airport during the same period of time. The airport services dozens of the largest air freight companies in the world. The facility processes more than 3.1 million tons of cargo annually.