THE public company developing Poland’s Central Communication Port (CPK) has issued a statement setting out the benefits of constructing the new airport and connecting high-speed rail network after questions were raised about the project’s future following the general election earlier this month.

The CPK project will see the construction of a new airport, 12 new high-speed lines totalling 2000km, and the modernisation of 3700km of railway.

The incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) Party won 194 seats in the election on October 15, but is unlikely to be able to find coalition partners to bring it to the required parliamentary majority of 231. Mr Donald Tusk, the leader of the largest opposition party, the Civic Coalition, was expected to become prime minister as a coalition between the Civic Coalition, the centre-right Third Way and the Left parties would have a total of 248 seats in the 460-member lower House of Parliament.

Tusk, the former president of the European Council (EC) between 2014 and 2019, has previously suggested the size and scale of the CPK project needed to be reviewed.

However, a report from Ernst & Young (EY) estimated that freight revenue from the project alone would generate almost Zlotys 200bn ($US 47.2bn) by 2060. EY also estimated that the outlay of the state budget for the construction of the CPK airport will be recouped after 12 years from the additional revenue from customs duties and VAT. From the mid-2030s onwards, additional annual revenue for the state budget from customs duties and VAT is expected to exceed Zlotys 1bn. A Kearney study also indicated that CPK will create as many as 290,000 new jobs by 2040.

CPK says that the European Union (EU) has confirmed another grant for the CPK rail investment programme of around Zlotys 300m.

“Against this backdrop, the voices emerging in Poland about discontinuing the project sound absurd,” CPK says. “A decision to possibly withdraw from the CPK project would expose the state treasury to potential contractual penalties and claims from contractors. An even bigger problem, however, would be the rejection of the gigantic profits that the CPK will soon begin to bring.”

CPK announced on October 24 that Vinci Airports, France, and IFM Global Infrastructure Fund (IFM), Australia, had been selected as preferred bidder to become the strategic investor to build and manage the airport element of the project. The government will retain a majority stake in the company.

“Investors may take up to 49% of the shares, but this will still mean attracting around Zlotys 8bn in direct investment to Poland,” CPK says.

“The discussions about cancelling the project are absurd and damage serious business negotiations,” says secretary of state at the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy and CPK commissioner, Mr Marcin Horała. “As a commercial company, we operate under national legislation, and a volatile legal environment does not affect business well. If we want to attract multi-billion-dollar revenues for our economy, let's stop exporting passengers and cargo to other countries. Let's finally allow the profits to stay here.”

CPK says the project also meet the objectives of EU transport and climate change policy, with key sections of Poland’s new  high-speed network included in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

CPK has also outlined the steps that have already been taken ahead of the start of construction. The company has an environmental decision issued by the Regional Director of Environmental Protection (RDOŚ), an approved Master Plan and an undertaking promise from the Polish Civil Aviation Authority to establish an airport. The second phase of the Zlotys 155bn Multi-Year Programme, which covers 2024-2030 and guarantees the funds necessary to continue design work and carry out construction of the CPK airport, as well as related key investment including rail, has also been adopted.

Large-scale geological investigation, demolition of property and relocation of residents who have voluntarily sold their properties have already been underway for some months. CPK has already purchased almost 1100ha of land, while discussions are underway over further property acquisition.

CPK says the creation of the new airport is necessary because Chopin Airport, the largest in Poland, is close to capacity, cannot operate at night and cannot be significantly expanded. The opening of the first stage of CPK airport is planned for 2028.

An in-depth report on the CPK project appeared in the October issue of IRJ, and is available online here.