It’s well known within German aviation circles that Hahn airport, located in the beautiful Hunsrueck area between Frankfurt and Cologne, has faced some severe setbacks within the past
Most of these have been in the cargo sector, where mainly Chinese carriers have decided for commercial reasons to reallocate cargo flights to Munich and Brussels airports. But there are tentative indications that Frankfurt Airport might step back in.
The local government had recently confirmed that they will put the airport out for tender in the hope of winning an investor, preferably one who is au-fait with airport operations.
Fraport, the owner of Frankfurt airport, Germany’s largest, was up until six years ago also part owner of Hahn airport.
Both companies parted ways as Fraport at that time saw no real benefit in staying at Hahn as a shareholder.
Since then there has been quite some rivalry between both airports, especially in their efforts to gain each other’s cargo airlines clients.
Would a Fraport new step-in make sense?
It’s hard to believe that the Frankfurt airport owners can see any commercial advantage for themselves by stepping back in.
However, reports in the German press indicate that the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Transport, Roger Lewentz, has been quoted as saying that his local government is open for cooperation with Frankfurt’s management.
Whether this is just wishful thinking on his part, or whether there has been an approach behind the scenes, remains to be seen.
Volker Bouffier, the Hessian Minister of State, which holds a majority share in Frankfurt airport, seems to be of a completely different opinion to his colleague in Mainz.
He made it clear already last year that he does not see any advantage for re-opening talks with regards to participating in Hahn.
Bouffier changed his mind more than once
But - as we all know - politicians are best known for their sudden change of mind.
Fact is that Hahn needs an investor who will be willing to put a considerable sum into revamping the airport and one who knows the business and can at the end of the day attract new clients.
One can’t see this working with a new Fraport shareholding.
Most probably, as the State of Hesse which also owns almost 16% of Hahn airport is looking for someone to take over their share.
It would be a shame if the Hahn misery were just to end as a political war between the ruling Social Democrats in Rhineland-Palatinate and their Hessian counterparts of the Christian Democrats.
The airport deserves something better and a serious investor if they are going to be able to keep their heads above water.
John Mc Donagh
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