German Court Rejects Frankfurt Airport Ground Handling Tender Decision

Frankfurt Airport faced another setback during the past weeks when the Hessen State Court concluded that the recent tender process and the decision for the appointment of the second handler for ground handling services at Germany’s largest airport, was not correctly worked.

The judges of the Hessian Court taught Fraport a lesson in how not to decide on bids  /  source: Hess. Court.
The judges of the Hessian Court taught Fraport a lesson in how not to decide on bids / source: Hess. Court.

The decision by the court follows on an official complaint by Wisag Aviation, who in turn were also one of the contenders for this lucrative license for passenger handling services on the airport apron.

Decision was made in favor of Acciona.
The tender had been awarded to the Spanish handling conglomerate, Acciona, who had already held the license for the past seven years and who along with Wisag and others had applied within the rules laid out for the tender license.

The tender for the second handler is normally run on a seven year basis. Acciona had won the previous tenders and normally speaking would have been the preferred contender for the license provided that their service quality and operational aspects had not diminished during the past tender period.
However, EU law dictates that all tender contestants be treated equally in the revision and study of the documentation they submit.

It has been clear for many years that Fraport was not a real friend of having a second handler on seat in its own house and that they are hotly contesting the admission of a third handling company on the apron.
They believe that if a third company joins, that quality will suffer considerably and that pricing will become cutthroat.

Ground handler Wisag might benefit from the court’s decision.
Ground handler Wisag might benefit from the court’s decision.

Wisag Aviation did not consider it as having been a fair tender.
Wisag’s case brought before the Hessen court has so far been successful.
They have convinced the judges that the tender process was apparently not conducted or documented correctly and that the “automatic” granting of the license back to Acciona was not correct.
The court has also ruled that their decision is non-reversible and that the Hessen State must reissue the tender anew.
The decision of the court seems to have been based on their conviction that the granting of the license to Acciona was not correct due to a lack of transparency and that certain rulings with regards to the working of the tender were not adhered to by the Hessen state.

Now new faux-pas
It will be interesting to see how the new tender will be received and as to which companies apart from Wisag and Acciona will apply.
One thing is sure, the Hessian ministry will have to be very careful in its handling of the applications as a second “faux-pas” would be more than embarrassing all round.

There are officially no “grandfather rights” for such licenses even if the second handler has been on seat for many years.
Wisag has managed to get the decision overturned.
Let’s see what the second round will bring.

John Mc Donagh

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