Prague Ruzyně Airport opened in 1937 with 4 grass runways at 45° to each other so that it was possible to always take off facing the oncoming wind. Now just two active runways are currently used at Prague Airport: the main runway 06/24 (lengthened in 1982 to 3,715 meters or 11,500 feet) and a side runway 12/30.
It was a very frightening and dramatic night on August 20, 1968; the airport was seized by a night time drop of Soviet paratroopers. They facilitated the landing of Soviet troops and then transports for the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Prague’s Ruzyně International Airport changed to the new name in October 2012 in consequence of the well-respected former President Václav Havel’s death. Václav Havel will always be remembered as an avid critic of the Communist regime, a protector of human rights, a playwright, and from 1989, as a well-respected politician. He was the ninth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1993–2003).
Since 1937 there have been 13 incidents. The first was in 1948, followed by ’54, ’61, ’68, ’73, ’75, ’77, ’81, ’83, ’88, ’91, ’06, and 2012. One hijacker was shot in 1983, otherwise no fatalities since 1975, almost all of which were due to poor weather and bad instrumentation for both the planes and the airport. The good news is that the airport has currently tied for 2nd best in Europe in the 2015 awards from the Airports Council International (ACI).
Prague has made a significant effort to turn near the Airport into a modern showplace. It now handles 12 million passengers per year, on 60 different airlines, flying direct to 140 destinations worldwide. It’s the biggest most important Airport in all the Czech Republic and happily employs 1,700 direct employees, along with 14,000 other jobs related to the airport.
The Airport is very near its maximum capacity. Plans have been in the works for a number of years for an additional runway. The original design called for building a parallel runway. While the work is ongoing there would probably be increased usage of runway 12/30, and people are worried about the noise levels.
Consequently they are protesting and making life difficult for the Airport. The parallel runways would be designated as arrival and departure, probably separated by 1,500 m for safety. It would reduce noise levels over the city and the environmental impact.
It currently serves as a hub for Czech Airlines, Travel Service Airlines (TSA, no not that one), SmartWings, and for the popular low-cost carrier, Wizz Air.
Of course which you really want is to see a plane landing at the Airport. This particular YouTube video shows you looking straight ahead, descending through the clouds and looking directly out the front window as the plane touches down. It’s a very nice shot.
Of course it’s always fun to look at the planes landing and taking off so the continuous shot webcam shows you just how busy Prague can be.
This video is a continuous shot, often with overlaid ATC and commentary built-in. It is located at the SW end of Runway 06/24 and the taxiways. Runway 13/31 crosses it left to right.
Cam 2 is actually a 3 second auto-refresh cam, delayed 15 minutes for security. It is on the SW corner at the Apron, near Departures on runway 13/31.
Airspace and all flights around the PRG airport can be tracked on the zoomable Air Flight Monitoring map. Departing flights are green; Arriving flights are pale blue.
As an extra bonus they have a couple of flash (.flv) movies of 2.5 minutes and 5 minutes duration that visually show the airport without narration, just music. It does give you a quick overall view.
It’s a Friendly Place
Czech currency is about 25 Koruna to the dollar, so the reasonably good quality carry-on snacks which you can purchase from the Aerosnack service to take on the plane at 69 Koruna and 89 with a beverage are a pretty good deal. You can access the breakfast buffet for 150 Kč (US$6.25) or have a 3-course meal for 125 Kč ($5.25). Parking is 790 Kč ($32) per week.
They have two very nice terminal with slidewalks (like a flat escalator) to move you through the terminal quickly. The self-check-in kiosks are easy to use and quite efficient.
For those inclined, they have VIP Service and lounges. If you need to kill some time between flight transfers you can drop by the entertainment center in Terminal One where they have a private mini-lounge, and overnight lounge (hotel rooms), an Internet café and PC corner, refreshments, TV, Wi-Fi, DVD, Xbox, and even an available shower. There’s a panorama of a lounge here so you can look it over. There is another of the Bedroom/playroom/shower facility you can hire if desired.
Unfortunately it is not available to passengers from Terminal Two. That terminal is restricted to people traveling without passports in the Schengen area, a political decision of the European Union. It won’t affect people from North America.
They have the usual variety of shops and duty free stores, for you to prowl through and peruse. Quite a few restaurants will look familiar as well as such as SUBWAY, Starbucks, and in some high-end pubs, restaurants, and cafes they permit smoking for the 18% of our population it still indulges.
You’ll probably like this airport; it’s contemporary, clean, efficient, and well run. Enjoy!