Amazon to Acquire Hahn Airport – What a Nonsense!

Speculation arose some days ago that Amazon was seriously looking at acquiring Frankfurt-Hahn Airport and then turning it into a European distribution centre.
This rumor was jumped upon by some of Europe’s press and it could have been interpreted that the “deal was a done thing.”

Hahn’s future ownership still stands entirely open  -  courtesy HHN
Hahn’s future ownership still stands entirely open - courtesy HHN

What a lot of nonsense!
Why would Amazon want to acquire or buy into any European airport?
The rumors were not denied by Hahn’s spokesperson and were commented that they cannot confirm speculation on Amazon’s possible interest.
This sort of statement is a good tool to bring world interest into Hahn at a stage where negotiations are apparently still going on with three potential Chinese investors.
It should be noted that it is not the airport or its management that are in negotiation for the sale of the airport, but the local Rhineland-Palatinate government who are in charge on that side.

There were also rumors some weeks ago that a fourth bidder was in the game. This being apparently a Kuwait-based investment company.
Sources close to the negotiating arena confirm to CargoForwarder Global that this is also nonsense and was never a serious option.
So - are there still the original three Chinese parties interested?
Hard to say - as the local government is not revealing anything about bidders or how far negotiations have moved forward.
This is probably due to the present political situation in this relatively small German state.
The elections at the end of March showed out that there was no absolute majority and that a three party coalition will have to be formed.
Who then will be the responsible minister to decide on Hahn’s fate? This is still to be determined and nobody is venturing an opinion.

Back to Amazon
In our view there is no reason why the delivery giant would ever consider an airport investment at the present time.
Hahn would anyway fall by the wayside in any consideration because it only has one operating runway.
Integrators and parcels express entities need to operate at airports which have at least two runways. Simply because if one is out of service they do not have the danger of their tight schedules being disrupted.
Secondly - Amazon will operate up to twenty Boeing 767 freighters in the foreseeable future.
These are however exclusively earmarked for the U.S. domestic market and the carrier has so far made no indication of extending airline services outside of the continental U.S.
Last, but not least - it would require an enormous investment in reshaping Hahn airport into a DHL, UPS or FedEx type of operation to ensure a smooth flow of parcels through such a hub.
Is Amazon that far already? - We doubt it.

Hahn urgently needs more business
Whereas back in 2011 the airport handled 286.000 tons of cargo, this has dwindled down to 80.000 last year. Almost a 40 percent decrease with no real sign at the moment of any improvement.
Both cargo handlers there, VG Cargo and Hahn Cargo Services had invested much money in updating and erecting new cargo handling facilities. Since last year they are facing tough times.

The passenger figures, according to a recent press release from Hahn’s management, state that passenger numbers have increased.
But, is this the case?
A couple of new carriers have joined for the season, but none which would make an impressive impression on passengers carried.
Ryanair’s load factor has increased somewhat but maybe this is due just to a more radical pricing policy. Are these the additional passengers?

So, is it back to the potential Chinese investors, and if so what plans will one or the other have to bring the airport into black figures?

John Mc Donagh

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