The unexpected transformation of a small airport in Poland due to the war in Ukraine
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The unexpected transformation of a small airport in Poland due to the war in Ukraine

(Dan Tri) – The conflict in Ukraine has turned a small, quiet airport in Poland into a global military hub, where passenger planes land with Patriot missiles.

The first batch of American soldiers arrived in Rzeszow-Jasionka on February 5, 2022 (Photo: Getty).

Adam Hamryszczak realized something serious was going on when American soldiers started showing up at his office.

It was January 2022, a month before Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, and he was then the head of Rzeszow-Jasionka, a small airport in a sparsely populated town in southeastern Poland.

This is only the 8th busiest airport in Poland, having served about 730,000 passengers in 2022. Meanwhile, New York’s JFK airport, USA has served more than 4 million passengers in January 2023 alone.

The unexpected transformation of a small airport in Poland due to the war in Ukraine

Poland’s Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport near the Ukrainian border (Graphic: BI).

Ukraine has been a no-fly zone since hostilities broke out.

Now, this airport is a center for the supply of heavy weapons, international aid and famous passengers such as US President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky… while still serving regular passengers.

`We only sleep a few hours a night`

The war in Ukraine pushed Rzeszow-Jasionka airport staff into a new reality as soon as it broke out in February 2022.

The first batch of American soldiers arrived at the airport on February 5, 2022.

`We only slept a few hours a night,` Mr. Hamryszczak said, explaining the transition as his staff was still racing to arrange transport of military cargo and medical evacuations while

The unexpected transformation of a small airport in Poland due to the war in Ukraine

Commercial aircraft share runways with military aircraft (Photo: BI).

The airport had to hire additional staff from Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport in Ukraine, which has been closed since Kiev closed its airspace.

Mr Hamryszczak said he faced `countless` challenges, including making complex deals with world leaders and welcoming the world’s media.

The US sent two Patriot missile defense systems, considered among the best defense systems in the world, to Rzeszow-Jasionka in March 2022 to help counter any threats to countries.

According to Konrad FijoĊ‚ek, Mayor of Rzeszow, Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport has now even become a tourist attraction.

He said it was the airport’s prominence that put the city of Rzeszow on the central map of Europe.

VIP guests

The plane carrying US President Joe Biden landed for the first time at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport on March 25, 2022.

`Air Force One is the most famous plane to ever come to our airport,` Mr. Hamryszczak said, and said the absolute security check took place a few days before Mr. Biden

And the second time Mr. Biden landed at the airport for a surprise visit by train to Ukraine in February, all security work was conducted in absolute secrecy.

The city’s central status has also helped boost local businesses.

At the same time as President Biden’s visit, famous actor Sean Penn also came to Rzeszow-Jasionka to promote the CORE Foundation’s work supporting refugees from Ukraine.

President Zelensky of Ukraine also landed at this airport in December 2022 on his way to the US.

Rzeszow-Jasionka has also become a center for asylum or foreign travel by Ukrainians.

Medical evacuation center

Rzeszow-Jasionka also played a key role in the emergency medical evacuation from Ukraine.

Mr Adam Szyszka is the manager of the local Medevac centre, which provides accommodation and care for war wounded before staff take them to specialist medical centers across Europe.

The unexpected transformation of a small airport in Poland due to the war in Ukraine

American soldiers now appear every day at Rzeszow-Jasionka airport (Photo: Getty).

Cancer patients from Ukraine have been passing through this airport when seeking treatment abroad as the war has left many of the country’s hospitals damaged or facing power outages.

Even with war raging right next door, Mr. Hamryszczak eagerly continued to welcome passengers to Rzeszow-Jasionka.

Initially, seeing the influx of refugees, soldiers and missile systems at this airport was a shock, but now it is part of Rzeszow-Jasionka’s daily operations.

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