After the recent fiasco Frankfurt-Hahn Airport experienced with a Chinese investor who proved to be a con man, the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate started a new bidding round ending 31 August to sell the airport. Surprisingly, a large number of seemingly potential buyers have meanwhile signaled their interest in running Frankfurt-Hahn.
Roth is confident
As of today, up to 20 firms have officially informed Rhineland Palatinate state they were keen in buying into Hahn airport. While some might have launched only a trial balloon to get an insight into Hahn’s business and traffic figures, some might seriously consider investing there. “I hope that at least 2 or 3 reputable firms with a clear strategy are among the ones that have expressed a strong interest in taking over and managing Hahn Airport,” stated faction head Thomas Roth of the Liberal Party, who is part of the state’s government at Rhineland-Palatinate’s parliament. His party together with Social Democrats and the Greens are building a tripartite coalition, governing the state.
HNA seems to be a serious bidder
Among the few serious candidates, which Roth referred to seems to be the rapidly expanding Chinese HNA Group, the parent of an airline conglomerate, including Hainan Airlines and freight carrier Yangtze River Express. HNA only recently channeled US$450 million into Brazilian carrier Azul, this way securing a 23.7 percent stake in the Latin American airline. Also during the first Hahn tender that ended in a debacle, HNA was one of the three remaining bidders, outsmarted by the Shanghai Yiqian Trading Company (SYT) who committed to paying €13.5 million, but failed to remit a single cent.
Money is becoming scarce
Should the sweet dreams of successfully selling Hahn end again in a rude awakening, the management has no option but to file for insolvency, in view of the losses incurred, the sluggish traffic situation and the widely consumed equity capital. It would be the only emergency exit left for majority owner (82.5 percent) Rhineland-Palatinate to get the loss-making airport off the state budget.
It would be a sad end of an ambitious project, aimed at turning the former U.S. airbase into a prosperous civilian airport, heavily supported by Rhineland-Palatinate’s politicians.
Hopefully, Hahn will get a new chance to prove it’s indispensability as important place for both cargo and passenger traffic.
Shanghai Yiqian Trading (SYT) now ready to pay?
A report in the Rhein Zeitung newspaper on 25 August stated that SYT have apparently now signaled that they are willing to pay the €13.5 million sale price which they have till now failed to cough up.
Whether this is just a ploy in order to gain more time and keep others away, remains to be seen. They had originally asked for payment deferral until the end of July. Again, nothing happened. Whether Mrs Dreyer and her government wish to believe this or just draw a line under SYT, also remains to be seen.
One thing is sure, they definitely cannot afford a second faux-pas as that would be the end of some political careers.
More on the potential investors should be known during the first half of September.
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh