Having passed through Innsbruck’s Kranebitten Airport on many occasions it has always felt sufficient in size to cope with the modest passenger numbers who use its predominantly charter flights. All things are, of course, relative. Innsbruck, despite being the Tyrolean provincial capital is a small city with a correspondingly sized airport. So, from where does the need for a new terminal building stem?

I have often been intrigued why Innsbruck Airport can lie almost dormant during the week – a few scheduled services to Vienna aside – but on Saturdays burst into life with a conveyor belt of charter flights to and from the UK – Manchester, Exeter, Bristol, Gatwick, etc. Indeed, these flights are often shoehorned into a short window of time that only serves to morph the otherwise serene airport into a temporarily overcrowded hothouse – resulting in what can be a slightly unpleasant experience at security and in the departure lounge. Does this alone justify the construction of a new terminal? Of course not; better scheduling – a more staggered approach to arrivals and departures at the weekends would solve the problem. Is though an airport meant to reflect the size of the city it serves or should it grow beyond its commensurate environment, despite in this instance Munich Airport only being a short distance away?

Flights between Turkey and Innsbruck have for the time being been discontinued, which will see the number of aircraft movements flatline but the Austrians’ love for warmer climes ensures their popularity with the likes of Mallorca remains strong. It is though unlikely that an argument for a newly built airport terminal can be based upon demand outstripping airport capacity.

Commissioned in 1964 for the Winter Olympics the terminal in situ is externally not the most aesthetically pleasing. As is rightly pointed out it is often the first impression travellers receive of the area, although passengers would have to be very unlucky to have zero visibility of the Austrian Alps prior to landing at Innsbruck. Nevertheless, as the first man-made structure encountered on entering Austria its appearance does leave much to be desired and fails to correlate with the imposing Nordkette mountain range that towers over the city. Whilst in the past I have been vocal about Austria’s obsession with building more and more cableways – some justified in their replacement of existing, aging facilities, others being examples of an area not knowing when to stop – there are obvious grounds to replace Innsbruck’s terminal with a more modern, visually pleasing edifice that would hopefully harmonise with its stunning surroundings. Seemingly awash with cash when it is needed the most, the Tyrol will seek value for money but the ready availability of finance ensures such projects will rarely be incommoded by a paucity of euros(€).

It would though be pointless rebuilding the terminal building if the scheduling of flights during the peak summer and winter months isn’t rethought. The same bottleneck would be created in any airport if the main concentration of its flights are squashed into a relatively small time frame, especially when during large parts of the week the terminal is otherwise fallow. There may of course be good reasons why Innsbruck Airport adopt this approach, although at its busiest moments few passengers will be able to comprehend or sympathize with its rationale.

Source material courtesy of: Tiroler Tageszeitung – http://www.tt.com/wirtschaft/standorttirol/12651079-91/neuer-terminal-flughafen-innsbruck-startet-planungsphase.csp