The region has opened the door to the cancellation of Líně Airport

Stanislava Benešová

The possibility that Líně Airport near Pilsen will disappear is a little more realistic. On Monday, the county councilors approved the start of work on updating the Plzeň Region’s spatial development principles. The most significant change being considered is a reduction in the size of the local enterprise zone from 700 to 280 hectares. And the possible disappearance of the Linz runways is also at stake.

“The Ministry of Industry requested the change of this strategic document because of the gigafactory project – a $100 billion investment in Volkswagen’s giant electric car battery factory is a priority for the government. However, the carmaker is also considering sites in other countries.

Štefan Koprda, chairman of the European Association for the Development of General Aviation, lobbied directly for the airport’s preservation at the council meeting.

“If Volkswagen says yes, we want assurances that there will be negotiations on where the new airport will be located,” Koprda said. Miroslav Tomana of the association, which runs an aviation museum in one of the hangars, would welcome similar assurances.

You can’t keep a promise

In a declaration adopted at the same council, the region pledged that the business park would not reduce the quality of life in the affected municipalities. “The air ambulance service must remain, and the eventual closure of the civil airport will be compensated,” said Deputy Governor Petr Vanka (ANO).

But according to Communist deputy Jiří Valenta, it is unrealistic that they would agree to create a new airport elsewhere. Councillor Marie Pošarová (SPD) quipped, “You can’t keep a promise. When I see a motorway being built, I ask: Where would the new airport be located? And when?”

Gigafactory or nothing

Moreover, Valenta said the plan could be misused. “It is not certain whether Volkswagen will build there – any assembly plant could be built there, and we don’t want that,” Valenta said. Regional councilor and Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) countered, “Either there will be a gigafactory there or nothing. It would not make sense to cancel the airport for a regular industrial zone.”

Governor Rudolf Špoták (Pirates) estimated that updating the “principles” would take nine months to a year. “Depending on the number of comments,” he added. Twenty-eight of the 38 councilors present were in favor of starting the process. Five were against, including Plzeň Mayor Roman Zarzycký (ANO).