No traffic jams, panic, tension or major misunderstandings. This is how the week passed in Karmėlava (Kaunas) Airport which is temporarily handling flights redirected from the currently being reconstructed Vilnius Airport, the leaders of Kaunas region municipality boasted in a press release.
According to the press release the heads of the Kaunas region municipality monitor the daily situation in the airport and its surroundings, particularly the Vilnius Street which is undergoing reconstruction.
"There were concerns that upon transferring flights to Karmėlava the beginning could be difficult, queues would form and there would be numerous unpleasant situations for both staff and passengers. The predictions did not come true," the press release states.
Kaunas region deputy mayor Jonas Gurskas, who met with the heads of the Lietuvos Oro Uostai (Lithuanian Airports) state company on Thursday is convinced that the concerns appearing in the public sphere over the past few weeks regarding infrastructural work and service were baseless.
"We're in a great mood and passengers are being accepted smoothly," assures Kaunas Airport director Bruno Kasparas.
Thankful for help
"We are thankful to the Kaunas region municipality for its help during the preparatory period. Smooth cooperation allowed us to construct the temporary terminal and perform other infrastructure works in time," said Lietuvos Oro Uostai executive director Gediminas Almantas.
According to the municipality's press release, the road from Kaunas to Karmėlava has had its speed restrictions lifted, traffic proceeds in two lanes both ways and there are no traffic jams. Furthermore the traffic lights have been adjusted to react to the increased flow of traffic.
G. Almantas lauded the cooperation of the local people and the local traffic police. "Passengers are even surprised that both volunteers and police officers are there to help at every step. I am especially thankful to the staff who come from Vilnius to Karmėlava and help maintain order at the airport all day long," the director said.
The Kaunas region municipal ambulance crew has had little work so far – a member of staff injured their leg, an inebriated passenger needed aid. Nevertheless G. Almantas stressed that a constant ambulance presence with such large passenger flows is simply mandatory.
"There are many people, the premises are filled with people, thus help could be needed at any moment," he said.
Karmėlava town becomes important
With Karmėlava Airport becoming the country's main gate to the sky, it is visited by around 10 thousand passengers daily, but the queues at the airport are no larger than those that could be found at Vilnius Airport, municipal officials state.
According to Lietuvos Oro Uostai data, 13 of 16 airlines have moved their flights from Vilnius to Kaunas. Over 35 days Kaunas is expected to receive 370 thousand passengers.
Karmėlava can be reached from the city centre by bus. Feeling the larger passenger flows, Uber and Taxify have been offering their services. Increasingly many passengers rent cars from the company City Bee.
How are the locals reacting to the flood of passengers? Karmėlava prefect Violeta Armolaitienė assures she has yet to hear any complaints. "The people of Karmėlava are proud that their town has become so important to all of Lithuania," the prefect said.
Benefit for the locals
Kaunas region deputy mayor J. Gurksas assured that an equal amount of attention would be dedicated to the locals' quality of life. The reconstruction of Vilnius Street will be concluded by October, new sidewalks are being constructed, lighting is being installed, green zones are being established. The Ramučiai central street works are proceeding apace.
The Kaunas region municipality, along with the Lithuanian Road Administration, is creating plans to shield the Karmėlava and Ramučiai suburbs from freight transport.
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