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  • Writer's pictureDamian Brzeski

Gdansk Airport Lech Wałęsa - From the meadow in Wrzeszcz to the international airport in Gdańsk

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Gdansk Airport Lech Wałęsa Airport, located in Rębiechowo, is the second largest regional airport in Poland, located about 12 km west of the center of Gdańsk. The first flights from the airport in Rębiechowo took place on May 2, 1974, and the development of airport infrastructure in this place, which began in the 1990s, resulted in the third position among the largest Polish airports.


Currently, the airport in Gdańsk is one of the most important in Poland, serving over 5 million passengers annually. Thanks to the continuous expansion and modernization of the infrastructure, the airport in Gdańsk Rębiechowo is becoming more and more competitive on the international arena.


View of the airport in Gdansk against the background of the setting sun
Airport Lech Wałęsa

In this article you will learn about the history of the airport in Gdańsk, learn some interesting facts and learn how to get to the airport.


1. From the field to the airport - the history of the creation of the airport in Gdańsk


The history of aviation in Gdańsk can be dated back to 1910, when the first plane landed on the island of Ostrów. It took place during the air show Danziger Fest- und Flugwoche". Soon after that, it was decided to create an airport in the Free City of Gdańsk.


The airport in Wrzeszcz was built in the period 1910 - 1913 on the territory of the training ground of the German army. During World War I, the airport in Wrzeszcz was one of the most important airfields of the German army on the eastern front.


A view of the no longer existing air hangars in Zaspa. there is an airplane in front of them
Hangars in Zaspa

After the end of the war, the airport in Wrzeszcz, under the Versailles Treaty, came under the administration of the WMG Senate and became an important center for civil and military aviation. In 1929, the Gdańsk Aeroclub was established at the airport, which became one of the most active aeroclubs in Poland. The Aeroclub organized aviation competitions, pilot training and air shows.


In 1922, the airport in Wrzeszcz became the base for the Polish Airlines "Aerolloyd", which in 1925 moved to the airport in Warsaw and there transformed into PLL "Areolot", later PLL LOT. After the airport received the status of an international airport and regular passenger flights began there. The first passenger flights from the airport in Wrzeszcz were operated by Polish Airlines "Areolot" and included connections between Gdańsk, Warsaw and Lviv.


In the 1930s, the airport in Wrzeszcz became an important center for the Free City of Gdańsk. During this period, it underwent intensive expansion, thanks to which it was also a significant point on the then aviation map of Europe. During this period, more hangars and other buildings were built, radio stations were installed, and for some time there was a tram stop near the airport building.


During World War II, the airport in Wrzeszcz was destroyed, and after it was occupied by the Soviet army, the center of Gdańsk was fired from here.

After the end of hostilities, the airport was rebuilt and additionally expanded. Until the 1960s, the airport had air connections with virtually all major airports in the region. In 1960, night flights were discontinued due to the aging navigation and lighting system.


In 1973, it was decided to move the airport outside of Gdańsk, to the village of Rębiechowo.

This was due to the need to handle large jet aircraft, which required a longer runway, and the airport in Wrzeszcz, due to its location, has already used its modernization potential.


Aerial view of the airport in Wrzeszcz
Airport in Wrzeszcz


2. The latest history of the airport Lech Wałęsa in Gdańsk - how has the airport changed after the political changes in Poland?


The construction of the airport in Gdańsk-Rębiechowo began in 1971, when it was decided to move the airport from Wrzeszcz there. Over the next three years, runways, taxiways, parking platforms and aircraft hangars were built. The airport was built on an area of about 350 hectares, and its cost was over PLN 282 million.


Few people know about it, but even before the first shovel was broken, the transfer of the airport from Wrzeszcz to the air base in Pruszcz Gdański was considered. However, in the end it turned out that it would be cheaper and more advantageous to build an airport from scratch in Rębiechowo.

It was a very good decision due to much more favorable geological conditions, but also good communication with the entire developing agglomeration of the Tri-City. Moreover, the conditions in the vicinity of Rębiechowo were much better in terms of average annual fog and the direction and strength of the wind.


the photo shows a machine working on the construction of the runway at the airport in Rębiechowo
Construction of a runway in Rębiechowo

In the 1990s, after the change of the geopolitical situation in Europe, it was decided to start its modernization. In 1993, the company Port Lotniczy Gdańsk "Since 2004 Port Lotniczy Gdańsk im. Lech Wałęsa" was established, which started investments aimed at adapting the airport to international standards and increasing its capacity.

As part of the modernization of the Gdańsk im. Lech Walesa, the runways were extended, the passenger terminal was modernized, and new taxiways and parking platforms for aircraft were built.


In 1997, a new passenger terminal was put into use, which allowed to serve more passengers and airlines.

Finally, the airport in Gdańsk - Rębiechowo was officially renamed in 2004 to the airport of Lech Wałęsa. Since then, it has undergone further modernizations and extensions, which were aimed at increasing its capacity and improving the quality of passenger service.


In 2006, for the first time in its history, the airport handled one million passengers a year.


In 2012, the airport moved to the newly built T2 passenger terminal, the building is built according to the latest standards and trends in the industry. Thanks to this expansion, among others, the airport was able to boast 4.98 million travelers at the end of 2018.


In 2022, the construction of the pier was completed, where Non Shengen passengers are currently served. With this, passenger service at the T1 terminal was finally completed. As of today, the airport is technically able to handle over 9 million passengers a year.


Currently, the company managing the Gdańsk airport is working intensively on the construction of the Airport City complex. It will be a new development consisting of several office buildings and a hotel. The construction is aimed at diversifying the company's income profile, the validity of this assumption was confirmed by the turmoil during and after the pandemic. construction of the so-called Airport Ctiy is currently the leading trend at the most important airports in the world.


Polish LOT plane at the airport in Gdańsk Wrzeszcz
PLL LOT operated the Gdańsk airport still in Wrzeszcz

3. Communication within the airport - How to get there or how to get back from the airport


Lech Wałęsa Airport is perfectly connected thanks to an extensive public transport system, which enables easy and convenient access from various parts of the Tri-City. Thanks to this, passengers using the airport can freely move between the airport and other parts of Gdańsk, Sopot or Gdynia, without having to use private means of transport.


Buses and Trains to and from the airport offer a variety of routes and options, allowing you to reach almost every corner of the Tri-City. The most important bus lines run between the airport and the center of Gdańsk, as well as to Sopot and Gdynia. Ticket prices depend on the zone in which we are located, but they are quite affordable and accessible to most people.


  1. Bus: Gdansk Airport is served by several bus lines. The most popular are line 210, which runs between the airport and the center of Gdańsk, and lines 110, 122 and 510, which run from the airport to Sopot and Gdynia. Ticket prices depend on the zone in which we are located.

  2. PKM Airport stop, offers a railway connection with the city center thanks to the SKM (Fast City Rail) line. Trains run from the airport to the center of Gdańsk, Sopot and Gdynia. Ticket prices depend on the zone in which we are located. We can enter the stop directly from the Arrivals hall

  3. Taxi: There is a Neptun Taxi rank at the airport in Gdansk, which offers a ride to the center of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. The price of a Taxi ride to the center is about PLN 70-90, to Sopot about PLN 80-100 and to Gdynia over PLN 120.

  4. Airport transfers: Many companies like Rabbit-Trans Poland offers airport transfers and hotel taxis. Transfer prices are similar or slightly higher than taxi prices, but when ordering an airport transfer you have a guarantee of price stability.

Pomeranian Metropolitan Railway (PKM) ) is an agglomeration railway system serving Gdańsk and its vicinity. Work on the design of PKM began in 2008-2009. They included the design and construction of a total of 10 stations, including the airport stop at the airport in Gdańsk Rębiechowo.


The construction of the PKM stop at the airport in Gdańsk Rębiechowo began in 2013. This stop was located approximately 500 m from the passenger terminal, at the level of Juliusza Słowackiego Street. Its construction took about 3 years and cost about PLN 38 million.

The PKM airport stop was put into use on September 1, 2015, with the opening of the entire PKM line connecting Gdańsk and Gdynia. This stop is the first PKM stop in the direction of Gdańsk, enabling passengers to quickly and conveniently reach the city center and other places in the Tri-City agglomeration.


The airport stop is adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, equipped with lifts and escalators, as well as special parking spaces for cars. Thanks to PKM, passengers can easily and quickly get from the airport in Gdańsk Rębiechowo to the center and other places in the Tri-City agglomeration.


View of the building of the airport in Gdańsk from the window of the PKM train
Gdańsk Airport from the windows of the PKM Railway

Summary


How do you see the airport Lech Walesa Airport has a very interesting history, it was established on the meadows of today's Zaspa and today it is a significant international airport. The airport authorities and the Marshal's Office make sure that this place is friendly to travelers and that it develops well. They care about the sustainable development of the area as well as public and accompanying transport.


In the near future, our airport will face new challenges and certainly the next decades of intensive development. For my part, it's nice to be an observer and at the same time a participant of these changes.

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