Germany’s Frankfurt- Hahn Airport which is situated between Frankfurt and Cologne was the subject of much discussion during the past two years. This because a majority share was planned to be taken over by what turned out to be a trickster and finally came to rest when the Chinese HNA Group took 82.5% share and laid out plans to put the airport back on the map.
Less passengers and continuing losses
The above is basically the situation today as figures released by the airport’s management show that passenger airline flights have reduced considerably, cargo is not moving ahead as planned and the result are continued losses.
Three years in a row with considerable losses. In 2016 the airport recorded a loss of 14.1 million euros; in 2017 it was 17.2 million and the expectation for 2018 is a further 12.5 million euros loss. Nobody dares venture to say how 2019 will turn out.
The losses hurt and one cannot blame Hahn’s management for not trying all possible to attract new customers and optimise costs further.
However, Ryanair has cut capacity at the airport further in favour of increasing their presence at Frankfurt-Main Airport where they see better opportunities to fill their aircraft.
The German state of Hesse holds the remaining 17.5% but has so far not revealed any plans on selling or holding their share.
The Hahn management is said to be convinced that the airport will come back into the black figures by 2024. But who will shoulder further losses until then?
Cargo as the backbone
It seems it was more or less certain after HNA’s majority takeover that air cargo should play the larger role in the airport’s future. HNA’s contacts were to be tapped in order to entice Chinese carriers to operate daily cargo flights into the airport. And, this happened to a certain extent with cargo figures increasing during 2018. But, is this enough to keep the airport floating?
According to information presented by Hahn’s official CEO, Hexin Wang in mid- 2018 and published in the German ‘Bundesanzeiger’ - the financial liquidity of the airport is secured through the HNA Airport Group and plans are on hand to secure more business. It is also clear however that as of 2024 there can be no more state subsidies for the airport from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate which was the previous majority shareholder.
In his report shown in the Bundesanzeiger, Mr Wang also openly criticises the German civil aviation authorities (LBA), whom he claims are hindering future cargo operations at the airport with the result that potential carriers who would like to use Hahn Airport are moving to Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands where landing rights are easily granted compared to a rigid German system.
Hopefully Hahn’s managers can be successful in getting a new carrier on board and maybe they should look more closely at developing the airport into a viable e-commerce location. The infrastructure is there, maybe needing some further investment and the right airline to put it back on the map.
John Mc Donagh