The discussions and speculation as to who will eventually become the new owner of Hahn Airport have been going on for the best part of a year.
Now, it really seems that the die is cast and the takeover will be published during the next day or two.
HNCA and not HNA!
Originally, there were said to have been three separate bidders to take over the debt ridden airport which is situated between Frankfurt and Cologne in the so called Huensruck area.
Then, all three candidates were claimed to have been Chinese investment companies or airline / airport related set-ups.
Finalizing the deal has been delayed due to the local Rhineland-Palatinate elections which took place in March of this year.
After the election it was not clear as to who would have to take up the reins to complete the sale as a so called traffic-light coalition made up from the labour, liberal and green parties has now been formed.
Reliable sources are now insisting that the deal is perfected and that the winner is the Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Company - in short - HNCA.
The HNCA was not really on anyone’s radar screen during the past months as it was rumored that HNA - Hainan Airlines Group was a favourite candidate.
HNCA and HNA should not be mixed up.
Although both are Chinese companies on the lookout for investments in the aviation sector throughout the world - they have no affinity to each other whatever.
Double digit sale price?
Secrecy still surrounds what price bidders were willing to pay and what exactly HNCA will end up paying once the deal is inked.
Information on hand indicates however that there is a double-digit million-euro price fixed.
Be it ten, twenty, thirty or whatever million - it’s still not clear.
It is interesting to note that whatever price HNCA end up paying, they can still rely on receiving financial support from the Rhineland-Palatinate state government. This was agreed with the EU Commission whereby financial support of up to 25.3 million euros could be possible up until 2024
HNCA aims to make the Henan region into an international freight hub
The Henan local government has invested heavily into taking a large share in Cargolux Airlines (35%), the Luxembourg-based all freighter operator. The plan is to build Zhengzhou Airport (CGO) into an international air cargo hub by having Cargolux China, a newly formed CV daughter company, operate regular flights into and out of CGO.
Does this now mean that Hahn airport and not Luxembourg will be the European centre for this type of operation?
As far as cost is concerned, it definitely might make more sense.
But, will Cargolux then siphon off part of their large Boeing 747 freighter fleet to Hahn in order to make this come true?
A sticky problem as the carrier has been facing possible strikes from pilots and other CV staff due to their having formed Cargolux Italia with a base in Milan Malpensa.
The unions claimed that this would ensure job losses.
In the meantime both sides came to terms.
The HNA Group, the other bidder, which also owns Yangtze River Express, which until last year operated regular cargo flights from China to Hahn, was earlier this year reported to be the hot candidate to take over HHN.
It is also said that there will be a meeting with all Hahn employees during the coming days in order to explain the details of the deal and introduce the new shop owner.
New prospects for cargo?
The HNCA deal would probably be more beneficial to Hahn and its employees if the HHN-CGO link really gets going.
This would ensure that the airport would get back to having regular cargo flights and large air freight tonnage moving through its doors as a supplement to the passenger business which still centers mainly around Ryanair’s Boeing 737 passenger aircraft operation.
The deal “seems perfect” - but we’ve seen Chinese investors also withdrawing at the very last moment from other deals which were said to be perfect.
This one however looks like it’s “a done deal.”
John Mc Donagh