Air Transport World

Vis a VIE Eastern Europe: Vienna targets its 'natural' niche as a business hub and a link for the East and West. (Vienna International Airport)(Airports & Airways)

Vienna targets its 'natural' niche as a business hub and a link for the East and West

VIENNA-When the old Communist-bloc regimes rumbled, Austria--a nation on Western Europe's easternmost fringe that once dominated a vast, Central European empire --seemed to be the natural choice to become the East-West business hub.

It hasn't happened yet. But Vienna International Airport--average 21,000 passengers a day--continues to position itself prudently for such an occasion.

Topping recent developments:

* West Pier nears completion. The circular pier, with 12 docking positions, will complement eight passenger bridges of the East Pier, opened in 1988 and being refurbished. Fewer travelers will have to be bused to the 58 aircraft parking positions from next spring. The terminal complex is under one roof.

* Privatization advances. The Republic of Austria reduced its 36.5% shareholding to 17.38% in June through a public share flotation and the sale of 1% to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Other shares are held by the city of Vienna (17.38%), the province of Lower Austria, site of the airport (17.38%) and the public (48.86%). Flughafen Wien AG, operator of Vienna International and Voslau general-aviation airport, was partially privatized initially in 1992.

* Strategic alliance sealed with Schiphol. The first accord of its kind between major European airports aims to establish commercial and technical cooperation. In later stages, joint efforts are foreseen in fields of international marketing and aviation policy, productivity. …

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