Baneasa will apparently survive as an airport, but will be open to private planes only. That, at least, is the plan. Do not be surprised to see a development of posh houses go up on part of the site at some stage in the future. (The actual terminal building should remain. Indeed, in 2011 Baneasa was declared a historic building of national importance. See here).
When we first moved to Romania, Baneasa was the city’s internal airport, serving only destinations within Romania (and, in a bout of nationalist fervour on the part of Tarom, Chisinau in Moldova). We used it a few times to fly around the country, and loved it: sparse, with few frills and few flights it was perfectly suited to its purpose. You were in and out in minutes. It was also convenient for the city centre.
Baneasa was not therefore an intrinsically bad airport; it just got too busy. Kept as an internal airport it would have been fine, much like our favourite Romanian airport, Satu Mare.
What did for Baneasa of course was the coming of the low-cost airlines. Originally built to accommodate no more than one plane at a time, Baneasa could not cope with tens of flights and thousands of passengers per day. That’s when it became hell on earth, and easily Europe’s worst airport.
So bad was it that more than once – when the difference in price was not too much – we have paid the extra to use Otopeni.
One low-cost airline, easyJet, refused to fly from Baneasa at all.
The knock-on effect of Baneasa’s closure of course will be the transfer of thousands of passengers to Otopeni. The new extension opened last year should mean that it continues to be an excellent airport, while any initial crowding in the check-in area will be eased in the summer, when a second departures terminal is due to open. Otopeni remains one of few things Bucharest can be proud of on the transport infrastructure front. (Shyster taxi drivers aside, of course).