Munich on the Way to Take the Pole Position

Will Munich overtake Frankfurt in the long run by becoming the main aviation hub in Central Europe? The situation looks promising after a very far-sighted ruling by Bavarian judges related to MUC’s ground infrastructure.

Approved by Bavarian’s judges but still waiting to be kicked off – third runway at MUC (animation) /  source: MUC
Approved by Bavarian’s judges but still waiting to be kicked off – third runway at MUC (animation) / source: MUC

After long and extensive reviews, the Bavarian Administrative Court has taken an important decision on the planning permission for Munich airport’s intention to build a third runway.  In their ruling the judges dismissed 16 suits filed in objection to the approval of the runway project, thus paving the legal way for the politicians to realizing the expansion plans.

“This is an extremely positive signal for the future development of Munich Airport,” stated CEO Michael Kerkloh after the court decision had been made public. But it is also an important step forward for the entire German aviation industry and the infrastructure needed by their protagonists, especially after the political hurly burly in the state of Hesse. There, the regional black-green coalition government has appointed one of most aggressive disputants of Frankfurt airport, the Green Party’s Al-Wazir as new Minister of Traffic and Economic Development.


The Greens have become a naysayer party
So while Bavarian politicians can go on shaping the future for MUC, protest battered Frankfurt, Central Europe’s by far largest airport, is increasingly coming under pressure. On the one side, the Hessian Prime Minister Volker Boufier (Conservative Party) trumpets endlessly how important and indispensable the airport is, then on the other side there are the Greens which belong to his conservative/green coalition, strongly rejecting any further development of Rhine-Main. They basically oppose aviation which in their eyes is loud, dirty, environmentally unfriendly and thus largely redundant. Quite a number of the Greens feel emotionally and politically committed to the protesters that consist predominantly of well organized silver agers of whom many are retired, having sufficient time to put most of their energy and funds into demonstrations and effective PR campaigns.

FRA shall be further restricted
The Greens Party’s front man is Tarek Al-Wazir who as the minister responsible for the economy in the Hessian Government makes him also responsible for many upcoming decisions concerning Frankfurt Airport. In many speeches and public debates he left no doubt that he intends to further reduce the operational hours at Rhine-Main for protecting the neighbourhood from aviation noise. Also the intended construction of a new satellite building for passengers at Rhine-Main is strongly questioned by Al-Wazir and his Green Party, leading to a political stalemate in the government and consequently the freezing of this project until near the end of this decade or maybe even longer.   
In the light of this situation it becomes apparent that MUC will become the more attractive Central European site for aviation in the long run, since it is currently the only airport where an additional runway can be built for enabling future growth of passenger and cargo traffic.

Once the traffic shift has taken place and with it the migration of many jobs, it might be too late for the Hessian politicians and their neglected stepchild Rhine-Main to change direction and get lost ground back.

Dirk Steiger  /  Heiner Siegmund