Rzeszów-Jasionka, a small Polish airport near Ukraine’s border, has transformed from a hub for budget flights to a central point in Western military support for Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the airport has been managing a surge in jumbo-jet landings, hosting dignitaries like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and playing a vital role in distributing 80% of allied military aid flowing through Poland.
- Prior to the invasion, Rzeszów-Jasionka was a modest airport offering affordable flights; post-invasion, it evolved into a significant logistics hub for aid to Ukraine.
- The airport’s proximity to Ukraine (50 miles away) and its unusually long runway made it an optimal choice for U.S. military planners, despite having been mainly for civilian purposes.
- The airport faced potential threats, including Russian cyber infiltration and airstrike risks. There were even reports of a Russian spy ring targeting the airport for surveillance.
- Eighty percent of allied military aid to Ukraine flows through Poland, largely via Rzeszów-Jasionka. The airport’s fuel supplies were challenged, often exhausted by a single jumbo-jet, necessitating frequent and significant fuel deliveries.
- Despite the logistical and security challenges, the commitment of the airport staff remains unyielding, with Tabisz emphasizing that their efforts directly support those resisting Russian advances.