VILNIUS – Built seven decades ago, Vilnius Airport's main arrival terminal does not meet today's needs, therefore, it should be demolished and a new building should be built, Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis says.
In his words, the upgrading of the old building could cost twice as much as the construction of a new building.
"The airport does not only meet Lithuania's image but also does not satisfy functional needs, therefore, I do hope we will find common sense-based solutions on what to do with it. There are several options, and the optimal one is to demolish this building. Another one would be to probably look for ways to preserve some parts of it but that would cost twice as much as the construction of a new one," Skuodis told journalists on Monday.
The airport served over 1 million passengers last year, he said, adding that the number stood at around 5 million euros before the pandemic, although the airport has the capacity to serve 3.5 million passengers.
"This building should be replaced by a new and modern airport," the transport minister said.
In his words, the airport's main building is not unique as similar building are in a number of Russian cities.
Marius Gelzinis, head of Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanain Airports), the airport operator in Lithuania, says the maintenance of the existing building costs too much, adding that the repair of the stairs, roof and faēade would need 1.2 million euros this year. Additional 100,000-200,000 euros are allocated for maintenance and upkeep every year.
"Once we build a new terminal, we will increase the airport's capacity to up to 8 million passengers, and this whole zone will remain for arrival only. It's physically impossible now to let such a number of passengers through it," Gelzinis told journalists.
Skuodis plans to soon initiate meetings and discussion with the Culture Ministry, heritage protection institutions, architects, designers and the city authorities.
The Cultural Heritage Department says it see no arguments as to why the building, which is included into the Cultural Heritage Register, should be demolished.