Aurel Vlaicu International Airport

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Bucharest Aurel Vlaicu Airport ( IATA: BBU, ICAO: LRBS) (largely known as Băneasa Airport or Bucharest City Airport) is located in Băneasa district, 8.5 km (5.3 mi) north of Bucharest, Romania. It was Bucharest's only airport until 1968, when the Otopeni Airport (today Henri Coandă International Airport) was built. Today it is the second airport in Romania in terms of air traffic and Bucharest's low-cost hub despite the fact that is located closer to the city centre than the main international airport. It was named after Aurel Vlaicu, a Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor and early pilot.

The first flights in the Băneasa area took place in 1909 and they were carried out by the French pilot and aviation pioneer Louis Blériot. In 1912 the first flight school in Romania was opened on Băneasa airfield. This makes Băneasa airport the oldest continuously operating airport in Eastern Europe, and among the oldest five airports in the world. In 1920, the airport headquartered the first aviation company in Romania, and one of the earliest in the world, the CFRNA (The French - Romanian Company for Air Navigation), the precursor of the Romanian national airline, TAROM. In 1923 the CFRNA built the industrial facilities for aircraft maintenance in Băneasa; on that base the aerospace company Romaero was created in the 1960s. The current terminal building was designed in the late 1940s and opened in 1952. At that time it was considered one of the finest architectural features of Bucharest. The building consists of a central dome with three distinct wings which represents an airplane propeller with three blades. During the communist period (1947”“1989), Băneasa Airport was TAROM's domestic hub, while Otopeni Airport was used as an international hub. In the early 2000s, TAROM moved all of its activities to Otopeni (renamed Henri Coandă International Airport). Today, the airport is becoming an increasingly important hub for business aviation and for low cost airlines, being the main hub of Blue Air.

City access
The airport is situated 8 km north of Bucharest city centre and is accessible by RATB buses 131, 335 and Airport Express 783, RATB tramway 5 and taxi. An extension of Line M4 of the Bucharest Metro to Aurel Vlaicu International, which will link it to the Main Train Station and the larger Henri Coandă International Airport, was approved in June 2006 and is currently in its planning stage.

Traffic statistics
From as low as 20 to 30 passengers per month in 2001-2002, BBU handled 119,000 passengers in 2004 and 2,118,150 passengers in 2010.

The 2007 low cost "invasion"
The first low cost airline established at BBU was Blue Air in 2004. From January 2007 many other European low fare airlines ( Sky Europe, Wizz Air, Germanwings) have started new routes from Bucharest BBU to popular European destinations. Thus, the airport traffic could double in 2007 (compared to 2006) raising a question mark regarding airport's outdated infrastructure being able to keep up with the traffic growth. EasyJet was set to launch services to Milan and London Gatwick from 29 October 2007. However as EasyJet was not satisfied with the operational requirements of Baneasa, it has temporarily moved services to Otopeni. EasyJet will continue to fly from Otopeni after March as they are still not satisfied with the operational requirements at Baneasa. They were set to start services on the 30 March 2008.

The building is a late 1940s design, and was not built to cope with 800,000 passengers per year and departures every 25 minutes. As such, the facilities are extremely undersized and get crowded. The building cannot be expanded, because of its status as a city landmark, and because of sheer lack of space in the airport area.

Renovation works
In 2007 the airport was closed from 10 May to 19 August for renovation works. All flights during this period were moved to Henri Coandă International Airport. Renovations included commercial areas, restaurants, a VIP lounge and a 300 space car park. The runway and lighting systems were also completely overhauled. The estimated cost is €20m. A new departure terminal is planned at the airport subject to approval. The current departure terminal will be used for arrivals and a new glass-structure departures terminal will be added to the existing arrivals terminal, thus raising the capacity of the airport to 3 million passengers/year.

Conversion into business airport
There are plans to transform Băneasa into an airport 100% dedicated to business air traffic as of 2013. The low-cost traffic is to be transferred to either Otopeni or Alexeni.

Airlines and destinations

Year Passengers Compared to Previous Year 2005 385,759 +224% 2006 673,000 +74% 2007 970,000 +44% 2008 1,768,000 +82% 2009 2,005,694 +14% 2010 2,118,150 +5.6% Airlines Destinations Blue Air Barcelona, Beauvais, Bologna, Brussels, Catania, Constanta , Dublin, Larnaca, London-Luton, Lisbon , Madrid, Málaga, Milan-Orio al Serio, Naples, Nice, Rome-Fiumicino, Stuttgart, Valencia Germanwings Berlin-Schönefeld, Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart Koral Blue Seasonal: Hurghada Nouvelair Seasonal: Djerba, Monastir, Tunis Wizz Air Alicante, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Catania, Charleroi, Cuneo, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Forlì, Larnaca, London-Luton, Madrid, Málaga, Milan-Orio al Serio, Naples, Pisa, Rome-Ciampino, Treviso, Valencia, Zaragoza


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