Exclusive – Is the Hahn Airport Sale Almost a Done Deal?

The latest news on the tender issued in 2015 is said to leave three candidates interested in acquiring Hahn Airport.
However, at this point of time it is still unclear whether there are actually two or three firm bidders still in the running and also as to whether all are Chinese groups.

Siegfried Englert  -  photo private
Siegfried Englert - photo private

According to a report in local newspaper Rhein-Zeitung these issues among others were discussed at an open event hosted this week by the Hahn Airport management. One of the attendees was Mr Randolf Stich, the Rhineland-Palatinate State Secretary for Internal Matters, Sports and Infrastructure.
 
Two possible candidates were named by local sources:
One is meant to be a consortium headed by the German ADC Group under the management of the former Rhineland-Palatinate Economic State Secretary, Siegfried Englert.
Englert was in the past also head of the German East Asia Institute and is said to be very knowledgeable on Chinese economic affairs. Who the possible Chinese partner(s) may be, is a well-kept secret.
 
Conflicting information
CargoForwarder Global learnt from local sources that the possibility exists that ADC may only be interested in bidding for the land on which the former U.S. army housing area complex was situated.
Would this really make sense?
What would a consortium want with empty land without the airport?
However, the report goes on to say that the deal between ADC and the local government is almost ready to be signed and that a seven-digit sum has been agreed upon.
Others are openly stating that the ADC consortium is out-of-the-running as far as acquiring the airport is concerned.
But, is this really the case? Hard to believe that after all this time ADC with their Chinese partner would now not be interested in going for the airport.
Chinese groups are said to have interest in building the airport into a hub for incoming Chinese passengers.

 

Does the Hainan Group lead the race?
The other seemingly known candidate is the Chinese Hainan Group (HNA), which is said to be high on the list.
Interestingly, HNA is the mother company of the Chinese cargo carrier Yangtze River Express Airways, which until last year flew regularly into Hahn Airport and accounted for 50,000 tons of the then 130,000 tons of air cargo passing through the airport at that time.
The story goes that if HNA wins the bid then Yangtze River Express Airways will reposition back to Hahn.
They moved to Munich last year stating that this was the wish of their largest customer, DHL. In the meantime the Munich operation works well and the aircraft was well filled with Audi and BMW car parts destined for China.
 
Why then, would they consider going back to Hahn?
Whether Yangtze, Audi and BMW as well as StarBroker who manage the sales for the Munich operation would let themselves be led back to the Huensruck airport, remains to be seen.
This might only be feasible if the HNA Group were to consider operating passenger flights with Hainan Airlines or another carrier into Hahn and connect for example with a new Ryanair feeder throughout Europe.
But, as mentioned earlier, this goes for any possible takeover candidate.
Rumours - but nothing concrete.

Randolf Stich - courtesy R-P gvmt
Randolf Stich - courtesy R-P gvmt

Hahn’s deficit is still high
Up until now it looked like that no matter who may win the tender, that the Rhineland-Palatinate government would have to subsidise the airport for a couple of years to come. If they did not, then a new owner would have to shoulder all the deficits and this would most probably cause serious bidders to turn away.
This according to State Secretary Stich might be something of the past.
Sources close to the case indicate that the Rhineland-Palatinate government will support the eventual buyer with up to 25 million euros to compensate for operational losses.
The loss for the current year is being set at around 16 million euros. On top of this comes the annual 2015 deficit of between 16 and 18 million euros.
 
One thing is clear, there will be no public announcement, despite maybe an internal decision having being reached, before the local elections being held in Rhineland-Palatinate State on the 13th of March.
 
John Mc Donagh

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