At Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, people are familiar with crises. In fact, they have been an ongoing issue ever since the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate took over Hahn’s majority stake from former owner, Fraport AG, 15 years ago, mainly to safeguard the 1000+ jobs. Allegedly, the Fraport board had argued that there was no prospect of the southwest German regional airport ever making a profit. Until now, this assumption was correct. However, the wind could soon turn.
Last week, the clock hanging at Hahn’s terminal building had to be set back to zero yet again, literally speaking, when the umpteenth attempt to sell the airport to a private investor was launched. It would appear that there is a greater prospect of success this time around. Whether this assumption is correct will be officially announced on 26MAR23. Until 09MAR23, interested parties can submit their tenders to the Insolvency Administrator, Jan Markus Plathner.
Well-known actor in Turkey
It looks better this time because Turkish Airport operator, YDA, has thrown its hat into the ring. The company seems to have the funds to finance the deal, long-standing knowledge in managing airports, and – presumably – its bid is supported by the key players involved.
Bidder presents master plan
YDA operates terminals, MRO facilities or other infrastructural assets at 14 airports in Turkey and across the Caucasus. Among them: Dalaman, Diyarbakir, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökcen, and Aktau in Kazakhstan. Compared to other Hahn bidders, YDA is the first potential operator to present a concept for HHN in the current sales process. In a letter to the Insolvency Administrator, YDA holds out the prospect of modernizing the runway and building an industrial park with high-tech medical laboratories at the site.
Hahn has some big points
Based on recent developments, insiders point out that there are strong indications that YDA and Swift Convoy might join forces - an outcome possibly favored by the creditors and the insolvency administrator. Swift Convoy won the original tender, but never paid the promised purchase price despite repeated payment requests by Mr. Plathner. It seems reasonable that YDA is capable of providing the funds needed to conclude the deal.
Yet, what makes Hahn interesting for YDA? There are various answers to this: Passenger and cargo airlines can utilize Hahn 24/7/365 due to its unrestricted operating permit. If properly oiled, this non-stop-operations license could be a money printing machine in the German airport landscape. In addition, when comparing the costs with that of 100 km-distant, huge Rhine-Main airport, or Amsterdam and Cologne which are also located within reasonable distance, Hahn charges much less. For instance, airlines operating a Triple Seven freighter to/from Hahn, pay €645 per landing (daytime) or €1005 for night operations. There is a maintenance facility next door and slot restrictions do not exist. The aforementioned other three airports are “somewhat” more expensive.
Moreover, a new owner would not have to start from scratch since various airlines have continued to use the airport despite its insolvency. These are:
Silkway West Airlines – 10-15 flights per week, mostly B747 freighter aircraft
Magma – 5-10 flights / week, B747F
Atlas Air – 6-7 flights / week, B747F
Raf Avia – currently at least one daily flight, ATR 72F
Numerous weekly charter flights round off the activities.
However, when it comes to promises such as investments, new business opportunities and job security, Hahn Airport employees have become very sensitive. In the end, little or nothing has resulted from the many big announcements voiced by potential investors in recent months.
Meanwhile, the German Federal Government is examining whether Hahn is part of the country's critical transport infrastructure. The final say on this will have the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In case of a confirmation, the Russian oligarch, Viktor Charitonin, will be excluded from the tender (Hahn - Revolving door continues to rotate - CargoForwarder Global).
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