Aurel Vlaicu International Airport
|Bucharest Băneasa Aurel Vlaicu International Airport
Aeroportul Internaţional Bucureşti Băneasa Aurel Vlaicu
|IATA: BBU – ICAO: LRBS|
|Operator||Compania Naţională Aeroporturi Bucureşti S.A.|
|Elevation AMSL||299 ft / 91 m|
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. Named after Aurel Vlaicu, a Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor and early pilot, it was Bucharest's only airport until 1965, when the Otopeni Airport (today Henri Coandă International Airport) was opened to civilian use.
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 (decade), 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.
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, EasyJet, Germanwings) started new routes from Bucharest BBU to popular European destinations.
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 was €20m.
Conversion into business airport
The building is a late 1940s design, and was not built to cope with more than 600,000 passengers per year and departures every 25 minutes. As such in the few years before 2012 when the airport was closed to commercial scheduled flights, the facilities were extremely undersized and became very 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.
Airlines and destinations
As of 25 March 2012, all commercial flight operations have been moved to Bucharest Henri Coandă (Otopeni) Airport. Now, Aurel Vlaicu International Airport handles only charter flights and private jets.
From as low as 20 to 30 passengers per month in 2001–2002, BBU handled 119,000 passengers in 2004, and 2,398,911 passengers in 2011.
|Year||Passengers||Compared to Previous Year|
An extension of the Bucharest Metro system to Aurel Vlaicu International, as Metro Line M6, 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.
- EAD Basic
- Information of Aurel Vlaicu International Airport at airport-data.com
- Passengers on small airports in 2013 (Romanian)
- Băneasa Airport website
- Nine O'Clock, Romania
- Passenger traffic in Bucharest (Romanian)
- ORDIN 169/1.801. Planul national de actiune privind reducerea emisiilor de gaze cu efect de seră în domeniul aviatiei civile (Romanian)
- Topul aeroporturilor din Romania in 2012 (Romanian)
-  (Romanian) The Romanian Ministry of Transportation
Media related to Aurel Vlaicu International Airport at Wikimedia Commons