It’s good to know that we won’t be having to report in the future on whether Hahn Airport is going to survive or not.
After many months of uncertainty and the debacle faced last year when the “top bidder” failed to pay up and proved themselves to be nothing more than a hoax, the airport will finally change hands and brand name.
HNA Airport Group wins the deal
What a relief it must be for the management and employees of Hahn Airport which is strategically situated between its two larger sister airports, Frankfurt and Cologne, to have learned that The Hainan Airport Group (HNA) has paid for and been assigned the 82.5% holding owned up till now by the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
There were many who after last years embarrassing faux-pas would have rather seen the airport closed and put to rest as a rather bad nightmare.
However, the state government put it out to tender once more and out of a long list of so called aspirants, finally chose three end-runners.
It is of utmost importance for the airport that a new owner be willing to invest in its passenger and cargo future and as the old slogan says; “put their money where their mouth is.”
The decision to chose the HNA Group makes the most sense due to their continued and positive airport investment strategy as well as their investments of the past couple of years in airport ground handling and catering entities.
Deal to be signed on 1. March
The contract between HNA and the local government will be signed this coming Wednesday, 1. March just after the annual carnival season had ended.
The price paid by the HNA Group for their 82.5% stake is listed as being 15.1 million euros.
CargoForwarder Global has been informed that the agreed amount has been duly paid up and is safely tucked away in the Rhineland-Palatinate bank account.
The final hand over to HNA is expected to occur sometime before May, once all formalities have been completed and documents have passed hands. This includes also the final sign off by the relevant EU authorities.
Hahn Airport gets a new title
A new company named “Hahn Airport Group GmbH (Ltd)” has already been registered as the new owner and this will be the title once signing is completed.
This company will be the basis for all future activities at the airport.
The new investments alone will not save Hahn overnight. A definite new restructuring of various areas will be essential in order to attract new and long lasting business.
Chinese investors sometimes have a different time horizon outlook on how to invest their money, but at the end of the day the aim is to make profit.
The HNA Group is no exception here.
What will the future bring?
The question still remains as to what will happen, or better said, who will take over the remaining minority share of 17.5% which is still in the hands of the Hessen state government. Our information is that ADC, who partnered with the HNA Group in the tender, will acquire the remaining 17.5% and that this will also be officially completed on Wednesday 1. March.
The change of ownership also highlights the question as to whether the mighty HNA Airport Group and ADC will eventually insist on their own management team being in control or whether the present leaders will stay in charge.
One thing seems sure however; the new ownership will bring a new structure in some form or other.
New business is a must
More important is the commercial future and ensuring that present airport customers are convinced that this deal gives them security for their future operations.
The HNA Group has made it clear in their business plan that they will invest considerably in the airport infrastructure and in both passenger and cargo operations once they are in the driving seat.
This however, needs careful planning and will not be effected overnight.
HNA has indicated they will introduce at least three new weekly all freighter flights through Hahn. It’s well known that Yangtze River Express, an all freighter carrier which is 100% owned by HNA would be a likely candidate. The carrier moved from Hahn to Munich some time ago. Whether they will be the freight carrier, remains to be seen.
On the passenger side, also three weekly flights from China to Hahn are apparently on the planning board.
It’s still an open question as from where these flights will be operated or whether plans are there for a fast start-up or rather deferral to 2018.
The deal is done, HNA means to stick to its plan to develop Hahn Airport - so it will be interesting to see how things develop and what the outcome will be.
John Mc Donagh