(Adds detail, government reaction, background)
VIENNA, March 28 (Reuters) - An Austrian administrative court has approved Vienna Airport’s plan to build a third runway, the company said on Wednesday, more than ten years after the project was first submitted for review.
The court had to decide again on the issue after Austria’s Constitutional Court annulled its first ruling, which blocked the expansion project for environmental reasons.
“Vienna Airport welcomes the positive legal decision announced today by the federal administrative court in favour of the third runway,” Vienna Airport said in a statement.
Airport expansion is a hot topic in Europe, pitting local residents and environmentalists against airlines, airports and businesses. Law experts see the Austrian case as potentially having implications for other major infrastructure projects.
Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache also welcomed the court ruling. “This could save and create tens of thousands of jobs,” he said in a statement.
Vienna Airport, which handled 24 million passengers last year and can currently deal with 30 million per year, says it needs the third runway to handle a further increase in passenger numbers, ensure Austrian businesses’ competitiveness and cope with rival foreign airports in Munich, Zurich and Bratislava.
Several airlines, including Ryanair, British Airways owner IAG’s low cost unit Vueling, and Easyjet have announced expansion plans for Vienna in recent months.
The administrative court was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)