Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled in favour of building a third runway at Munich Airport, dismissing complaints filed by a nature conservation group and five individuals. Now it’s up to the City of Munich, a 23 percent stakeholder in the airport, to abandon its role as “nay-sayer“ and vote in favor of the project together with the other public stakeholders, the state of Bavaria and the Federal Government. Right after the court decision we spoke with MUC’s CEO Michael Kerkloh about the implications of this ruling and the business opportunities offered by an additional runway.
Q: Michael, we would like to congratulate you on the ruling. Are all legal barriers now removed for building a third runway at MUC?
A: Legally speaking, yes. The ball is now well in the politician’s half of the pitch. The Bavarian government has announced it will start negotiations with all parties involved and to make a timely decision.
Q: The City of Munich, a 23% stakeholder in the airport operating company, continues opposing the 3rd runway project. How do you intend changing their politician’s mind to finally get a green light for building the runway after ten years of controversial discussion?
A: I’m looking forward to the forthcoming discussion between Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehofer and Munich’s political leaders. The Bavarian state government has emphasized time and again the utmost importance of this project for the entire infrastructure of Bavaria and southern Germany.
Q: Sceptics maintain that a 3rd runway is superfluous. They stress that MUC’s traffic figures have stagnated in recent times. What’s your answer to these “nay-sayers“?
A: The demand for transport services both in the passenger and cargo segment has continuously risen over the years. In 2015, we expect the number of air travelers to clearly surpass the 40 million mark. Also, the downtrend in movements seen in the last three years has been stopped, proven by the increase of arrivals and departures by one percent during the first 6 months in 2015. Next year we even expect movements to go up 4 percent on average.
Q: In addition to the steadily growing number of passengers the strong gains in cargo in recent times are noteworthy. Would a third runway add to the attractiveness of the
airport both for all-cargo carriers and integrators that operate freighters to and from MUC?
A: In flown freight Munich is currently achieving above average growth rates that result in developing it as supra-regional cargo hub particularly for Southern and Eastern Europe. With a 43% market contribution on the entire German cargo volume the southern part of this country offers an enormous potential for additional all-cargo flights operated at our airport. In addition to this I‘d like to point out that both cargo airlines and integrators are dependent on attractive slots to satisfy customer requirements and offering the market the requested services. A third runway would offer carriers a wider range of operational choices.
Q: Will the third runway at MUC be the last major enlargement of one of Germany’s larger airports, aside from the forthcoming inauguration of Berlin’s BER that’s slated to open
up its gates at the end of 2017?
A: Yes, I fully agree. This is why this third runway has an enormous significance for the national transport infrastructure.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund