Tom Allett provides a round-up of recent news and statistics from Germany and Austria.
Despite a crisis in the euro zone, the airports of Germany and neighbouring Austria seem to be steering a steady course through Europe’s financial storm.
Of course, it isn’t easy for any airport at the moment – the troubled times are far from over – but, given an almost Europe-wide recession, things could be much worse. A look at ACI’s European passenger handling statistics for 2011 that represents approximately 88% of European air travel shows 19 airports, 15 from Germany and four from Austria, in the top 166 that are listed.
In the early months of this year the statistics appeared to have stabilised but, as we reach the half-way stage for 2012, Europe’s figures have stagnated. The future of the troubled euro currency seems to be poised on a knife’s edge. Although Spain has recently struck a deal to restructure its debt, the situation in Greece has yet to be resolved and the resulting uncertainty is affecting the whole continent.
At the time of writing, the latest set of ACI passenger statistics available are those for April, which showed an average growth of 0.7%. Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe responded to these figures by saying: “Passenger traffic at EU airports has stalled, showing once again the impact of the European debt crises and weakening economies in Western and Southern Europe. Even resilient major EU hubs are seeing passenger growth weakening below the 3% mark.” He added: “As the euro zone seems to be approaching its moment of truth, businesses and consumers are holding their breath – which does not bode well for the summer season at many European airports.”
Using ACI’s passenger growth statistics to compare the year-to-date figures up until April, the airports that have experienced the highest increase in passenger traffic per group in Germany and Austria so far are:
Group 1 (those handling more than 25 million passengers per year) – Munich (+4.4%)
Group 2 (with between 10 and 25 million passengers) – Vienna (+9.3%)
Group 3 (between 5 and 10 million passengers) – Stuttgart (+7.1%)
Group 4 (with less than 5 million) – Salzburg (+2.2%)
In fact, Salzburg was the only airport in the report’s ‘under 5 million’ group within Austria or Germany to record a positive growth figure for the year to date. All the others suffered a drop in numbers, with many having been hit by the significant reduction in services made by Air Berlin over the last year.
As a wider recent European-wide performance comparison, ACI reports that the average year to date passenger increases within these groups are: +1.5%, +2.4%, +2.7% and +1.8% respectively.
In May, at the presentation of Cologne’s annual accounts for 2011, Michael Garvens, Chairman of the Board of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH said: “Our business model for the last ten years, [which is] based on the two pillars of low-cost flights and cargo, has once again proved its value in 2011.”
It was a record-breaking year for cargo at Cologne, with almost 743,000 tonnes of freight handled. The growth is being driven by UPS and FedEx.
Another positive was that Cologne Bonn achieved higher sales revenues last year, delivering a profit of €10 million (US$12.6m) from a sales income of €271.5 million (US$343.1m). By comparison, passenger numbers were said to be disappointing, down 2.3% from the 2010 figure to 9.63 million.
The interim financial report delivered by Frankfurt Main’s management company, Fraport, for the first three months of 2012, recorded a positive traffic trend and ongoing investments at Frankfurt Airport.
In the first quarter of 2012, Fraport AG achieved revenue of €537.9 million (US$680m) – an increase of 5.8% year-on-year. The operating group profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), grew by 7.6% to €138.3 million (US$175m). Fraport says this positive result is down to growing passenger traffic at its consolidated group airports, which handled approximately 17.5 million passengers in the first quarter of 2012 – up 3.9%.
By contrast, the group’s result for the same period declined by 36.4% year-on-year to €15.4 million (US$19.4m). Fraport says this is due to its “ongoing investment activities” at Frankfurt Airport (IATA FRA), which include the cost of the new runway that opened last year, but has not appeared on the balance sheet until now.
Fraport says it will have spent about €7 billion (US$8.8bn) on FRA’s infrastructure between 2007 and 2015.
Fraport AG’s Executive Board Chairman, Dr Stefan Schulte, commented: “Our operating performance is excellent thanks to the commitment of all our employees. As expected, the group result declined, reflecting our comprehensive investment activities. With these investments, we are building a solid foundation for the future of our company.”
FRA’s air cargo tonnage declined by 11.7% during the first quarter. Fraport said this was down to a combination of recent market volatility and the airport’s night flight curfew which was imposed last year. The airport’s passenger figures, which, says Fraport, were stimulated by intercontinental traffic, rose 3.5% to 12.2 million passengers. The company also reports that although FRA achieved record passenger numbers in January and March, the first quarter of 2012 did not exceed the record achieved during the previous leap year in 2008 due to the 2,150 strike-related flight cancellations in February and March 2012.
Magdeburg Cochstedt International Airport (IATA CSO), serving the capital city of the central/eastern Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany, is celebrating the launch of an important new route for the regional facility. Based airline CSO City Fly is a subsidiary of the airport’s management company and on May 28 it launched a Monday to Friday Magdeburg-Munich-Bern Belp service which is operated by Skytaxi.
With tickets from €99 (US$125), the route has a double significance as it not only connects Magdeburg with the Bavarian hub and all its international connections; but it has also replaced the Munich-Bern service lost when Cirrus Airlines collapsed in January 2012. The new routes complement Magdeburg’s existing services to Antalya, Budapest, Gerona and Palma. See www.airport-cochstedt.de for more details.
On May 17 Munich Airport celebrated its 20th anniversary at the ‘new’ site; which has been a period of continued success. In the two decades since its opening on May 17, 1992, the airport has had what its management team describes as a “relentless rise” in the ACI European airport rankings, achieving sixth place in Europe’s top ten airports in 2011. Annual passenger traffic growth has averaged 6% during the airport’s first two decades; significantly higher than the 3.7% average posted by all other German airports during the same period.
Looking ahead, a significant step towards the future took place on April 23 when the official ground-breaking ceremony for the Terminal 2 satellite facility took place.
With 200 invited guests in attendance, the first sod was turned over to mark the start of the satellite’s construction. When complete in 2015, it will raise Terminal 2’s passenger capacity from 25 to 36 million passengers per year. Terminal 2 is jointly operated by the airport’s management company FMG and Lufthansa.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, Thomas Klühr, the Lufthansa Management Board member in charge of Munich Passenger Operations & Direct Services, stressed the enormous importance of the satellite facility for Munich by saying: “With today’s ground-breaking ceremony, we have cleared one of the most important infrastructure projects in the Lufthansa Group for take-off. This satellite ensures that we can continue offering our customers excellent quality in the future. At the same time, Munich will secure its position as a player among the international premium hubs. The satellite will continue the Terminal 2 success story.”
As mentioned earlier, in the first quarter of 2012 Salzburg recorded a higher percentage passenger growth than any other Austrian or German airport in the under ‘5 million’ passenger group. For the visitor though, perhaps the most obvious sign of the airport’s development is the ongoing construction of a new control tower emerging about 115ft (35m) west of the existing facility. Following an EU-wide two-stage tender process, the contract for the project was won by the joint venture Halle 1/Herbrich/IPC. The construction costs for the new tower, excluding the flight control systems, will be around € 14 million (US$17.7m). Building work began in November 2011 and is due to be completed in early 2014. The new 174ft (53m)-high facility is a joint venture between the Austrian air traffic provider Austro Control and the airport’s management company, Salzburger Flughafen GmbH and will replace the 40-year-old existing tower with a new modern structure that will incorporate a back-up energy supply which could be used in the unlikely situation of the primary source failing.
A landmark event for Vienna took place on June 5 when the much-awaited first phase of its Skylink terminal expansion opened for business. With the new facility, Vienna now has four check-in areas: Check-in 1 – counters 150-199 (the former terminal 1); Check-in 1A – counters 111-132 (the former terminal 1A); Check-in 2 – counters 201-299 (former terminal 2); and Check-in 3 – counters 301-399 (the new area). In area three, passengers check in for all routes operated by Austrian Airlines and its Star Alliance partners. The exceptions are the flights conducted by Brussels and Turkish airlines.
The new gate areas F and G accommodate almost all of the Austrian Airlines’ departure flights, though not long-haul services to the United States, which, due to the need for closed gates and additional passport control checks, depart from the D gates.
|ACI’s 2011 European League Table
2012 – Year to date (April)
|European Rating||IATA Code||Commercial Passengers||+/-||A/C Movements +/-||Cargo +/ –|