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The authorities of Ustrzyki Dolne want to take over about 340 ha of the neighbouring commune of Bircza in order to build an airport. The potential airport would revive tourist traffic in the region, which cannot be effectively achieved by the disadvantageously located Rzeszow Airport. Passengers would be attracted by the proximity of Bieszczady trails and attractive prices of air tickets – an hour flight from Gdańsk would cost less than PLN 100.
The area belonging to the Arlamow Hotel (Wola Korzeniecka) and located 15 km away from it, is currently equipped with an airstrip and a heliport with an asphalt road 1,200 m long and 30m wide. The site is recorded in the register of airports kept by the Civil Aviation Office under the code ICAO-EPAR since 2012.
The mayor of Ustrzyki Dolne argues that the construction of the airport will contribute to the development of tourism in the region. He believes that the new investment will be a driving force for other activities and actions, such as development of gliding or organization of mass events. The new airport would receive mainly charter flights and domestic tourist traffic. During the session of the City Council of Ustrzyki Dolne a resolution was passed on accession to the procedure of changing borders. There were 12 councilors in favor, two were against.
The idea did not meet with the approval of the Mayor and the Bircza Municipality Council. The local government does not intend to give up the plot and considers the matter a heist on property taxes. The Council of Bircza Commune unequivocally opposes the Mayor of Ustrzyki Dolne’s intention to change the boundaries of the Ustrzyki Dolne commune at the cost of seizing part of the territory of the Bircza commune villages. The Council of the Bircza Commune is of the opinion that any boundary changes should be based on the principles of full partnership, taking into account mutual interests of local government units, socio-economic and historical conditions, and first of all, the will of the residents,’ reads the position of the Council of the Bircza Commune that is available on the commune’s website.
The authorities of the Przemyśl district are also against the project. Wojciech Bobowski, the chairman of the council, expresses his concern and asks why the financial benefits should accrue to the Ustrzyki commune and not Bircza, where the tiny airport is now administratively located. He suggested convening a session to work out a common position on the petition, which would be approved by all the clubs in the district. The petition is expected to be sent to the state Parliament.
A consultation with residents will begin shortly and will run until mid-January to see how residents feel about the development of the borough in this direction. There are concerns that the airport will disturb the peace of life in the Bieszczady. The mayor announced that if 50% of the residents do not participate, he will withdraw from the plan to build the airport. In the case of participation of the required majority of inhabitants, the decision of the minister responsible for public administration, who gives his opinion on every application to change the borders of the municipality, will also be necessary.
The mayor also stressed that already at this stage it is possible to speak of success, because with the plan to build an airport, the topic of building better infrastructure in the region has returned. He also stresses that if the construction is realized, it will contribute to the development of the entire area and will attract mountain lovers.