Currently, the Daugavpils municipality is developing technical documentation that would see the dormant airfield – a large, former Soviet air force base covering more than 180 hectares – revived as a center for business and industry. In the district of Augšdaugava, in the territory on which the former airfield is located, the design of suitable access roads is underway.
A year and a half ago, the newly elected Daugavpils city council stopped a previous Daugavpils airport project, announcing that they were going to build an industrial park on the territory of the former airport. The municipality is hoping for European funding, explained Daugavpils City Council Deputy Chairman Valērijs Kononovs (Saskaņa/Harmony party).
"This project, in my opinion, is one of the most urgent that the municipality has to carry out and apply for when it the program opens. If I'm not mistaken, 20 million euros of funding is planned. All technical works are continued so that the projects have a high degree of readiness," said the representative of the municipality.
Over the years there have been various uses suggested for the site, including turning it into a major transport hub taking domestic and international passenger flights. Unfortunately, none of them have ever been realized. The most recent idea is turning the site into a technology, sciene and aviation "cluster", as outlined by this Daugavpils City Council presentation from 2022.
The idea of operating the airport for aviation has not been completely abandoned. Currently, a construction project for the development of the Daugavpils airport and the adjacent territory is being developed.
At the end of last year, the municipality announced a tender for an expert assessment of the construction project, Daina Krīviņa, head of the Daugavpils Development Department, said.
"According to the Construction Law, it is necessary to carry out an expert assessment for this construction project. It is a normal, usual procedure regarding the development of a construction project," Krīviņa said.
It is planned that the necessary project documentation and expertise will be completed this year.
"The airport is of such a size that it can be certified. We still have an industrial park planned in this area. The construction design has been completed there. And this directly affects the aviation section, there is a large-scale construction project for the creation of a civil aviation airport," said the head of the Daugavpils Development Department.
The municipality of Daugavpils is clear where to look for funding for the construction of the industrial park, but not for the time being for the reconstruction of the airport.
"As for the industrial park, we plan to apply for the national industrial park program, which takes applications until the end of April this year. This is one source. But for the airport, there are no such financial sources, no. Ideally, [it would be] state funding. It is too big for a municipal project," Kriviņa said.
The territory of the former airport in Augšdaugava (Upper Dauagava) district is owned by the city of Daugavpils. On the other hand, the access roads are the property of the separate county municipality. The Upper Daugava region is engaged in design works for the construction of access roads so that the territory of the planned industrial park can be accessed from both the Rēzekne and Daugavpils sides, said the executive director of the regional council, Pēteris Dzalbe (Daugavpils region party).
"We are designing the reconstruction of the approach road near the airport. Then we are designing the reconstruction of the parallel road that is along the Daugavpils - Rēzekne highway, and at the other end we will also connect this road with the Rēzekne highway in order to create a bypass around the village of Lociki, so that the transport going to the industrial park does not enter the residential area zone, and would not damage the infrastructure currently used by residents," said Dzalbe.
After the projects are developed, it will be clearer how much funding is needed for construction. The municipality of the Upper Daugava district, similarly to Daugavpils, also plans to attract money for road construction from European funds.