Frankfurt strengthens its position as a super-hub

Posted: 11 December 2009 | Dr. Stefan Schulte, CEO, Fraport AG | No comments yet

Fraport expects to spend a huge €7 billion by 2015 to ensure Frankfurt airport strengthens its position as a leading global hub. In the competitive European airport business, Fraport, which owns and operates Frankfurt airport, has put in place a series of initiatives to make sure it can deliver a large increase in capacity by 2015 to handle predicted passenger and cargo growth.

Fraport expects to spend a huge €7 billion by 2015 to ensure Frankfurt airport strengthens its position as a leading global hub. In the competitive European airport business, Fraport, which owns and operates Frankfurt airport, has put in place a series of initiatives to make sure it can deliver a large increase in capacity by 2015 to handle predicted passenger and cargo growth.

A fourth runway, a new third terminal for passengers in the south of the airport, and the expansion and modernisation of existing terminals, including the ability to handle wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747/800, are all part of the biggest expansion in the history of Germany’s largest airport.

When the new Runway Northwest is finished in 2011, the number of aircraft movements per hour will rise from 83 today, to 126, a 50% increase. Based on planned capacity increases at other European airports such as London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle or Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt will offer the highest slot capacity.

Slot and terminal capacity increases together, will enable Fraport to deliver a consistent service to the 88m expected passengers in 2020, up from 53.5m in 2008 – as well as the 119 scheduled passenger airlines, plus charter and cargo carriers, which serve 304 destinations in 106 countries worldwide.

Among those services, baggage handling is among the most important because of Frankfurt’s high-yield transfer business. Frankfurt ranks among the most efficient major airports in the world when it comes to luggage. For example, in 2008 more than 99% of all baggage items arrived at their destination without any complications – an outstanding result compared to other European hubs. Even the baggage of long-distance train travellers can be checked-in at the AIRail terminal.

Despite having to operate in a highly limited space, these services ensure a maximum number of passengers and baggage items are processed in the fastest possible way. The 73km long computer-controlled baggage sorting and conveyor system is the only one of its kind in the world and can handle approximately 18,000 dispatched items per hour; on record days, more than 100,000 items are transported. This makes Frankfurt airport the fastest of all European hubs, while also achieving the greatest level of precision. The system connects each check-in counter with all gate positions, transporting baggage in coded tubs at a top speed of five metres per second, while luggage of passengers who have missed their connecting flight is automatically re-coded for inclusion on their new flight.

Connecting services are a major plus-point for airlines at the airport. Frankfurt is the home base of Lufthansa, one of the world’s biggest airlines, and also the European hub for Star Alliance. Around two thirds of intercontinental air traffic departing from Germany is routed through Frankfurt and the airport has Europe’s highest connecting rate of 53%, which means every second passenger transfers here.

The baggage sorting and conveyor system is intrinsic to enabling the airport to offer transfer times of as little as 45 minutes, as is its integrated terminal concept and the Sky Line people mover, which is why Frankfurt is known as a quick-change airport. Even when connections must be made under time pressure, airline and passenger transfers are organised in a particularly efficient manner via unique facilities such as the Short Connex Service Center. Fraport’s hub expertise ensures this performance.

Fraport is also strategically positioning Frankfurt airport to be a global hub for the new age of super-jumbo travel – and is developing expertise in this new market, especially as Lufthansa’s entire fleet of Airbus A380s will be based there. Expansion is being geared around the A380, with more than 20 takeoffs and landings of the aircraft anticipated for 2010. Frankfurt is one of only approximately 20 airports able to offer hub functions required by the mega-liner.

At Terminal 2 there are currently four A380 boarding areas, from which passengers may access both decks of the plane simultaneously, while Terminal 1 is equipped with six boarding areas. Up to 840 passengers on two decks are guaranteed to board in 90 minutes which means it is just as fast as with the Boeing 747, which carries up to 35% fewer passengers and baggage.

Additionally, the new €500m Pier A-Plus at Terminal 1, now under construction and set to be finished in 2012, will be able to accommodate seven wide-bodied jets, including the A380. With a total area of 185,000sqm spread over four levels, Pier A-Plus, which will be exclusively used by Lufthansa, will have a capacity of up to six million passengers per year and will feature an atrium with shops, lounges and restaurants, and 23 open-concept gate lounges.

January 2008 also saw the completion of the first section of Lufthansa’s A380 maintenance hangar. It can house two A380s or three Boeing 747 aircraft. Europe’s largest A380 maintenance hangar is expected to be ready by 2015 when it will have room for four A380 aircraft.

Frankfurt airport excels in cargo services, which, in the past few years, have increased faster than passenger traffic with approximately 290 airline, shipping and freight handling companies and other logistics providers having a presence at the hub. In fact, for many years, Frankfurt has been the largest European hub for worldwide airfreight logistics, processing 15% of international airfreight in Europe going to 70 destinations in 40 countries. Worldwide, the airport ranks seventh.

The CargoCity Frankfurt distribution centre, which consists of CargoCity North and CargoCity South, ensures the fast flow of goods and information, smooth documentation and simple delivery and pick-up during each phase of the logistics process. Facilities for handling special freight such as fruit, flowers, sea animals or horses, as well as the increased presence of express services, an airmail centre, special facilities for dangerous goods handling and forwarders, give international companies a one-stop solution.

CCS has become an international success story since it was launched in 1996. About €600m has already been invested by various partners and some 216 airline, forwarding, ground handling and express companies, employing 7,500 staff, are established there. These include firms like Dachser, DHL Danzas, Kühne & Nagel, Nippon Express, Panalpina and Yusen. Under the airport’s expansion programme, additional new land will be allocated to expand the CargoCity South in the future, especially given that cargo is projected to rise from 2.1m tonnes in 2008 to more than 3m tonnes by 2020. Intermodal air-rail cargo capabilities are also being developed using the existing rail line that leads directly into the CargoCity South.

These and other projects (see Panel 1) will keep Frankfurt airport at the forefront of the airport business and will allow it to successfully evolve into what is effectively an airport city – a vibrant urban complex with excellent global connections. We believe that the current world economic crisis will be relatively insignificant with regard to Frankfurt’s long-term development and that globalisation will not only continue, but its pace will gain momentum.

The fact that disproportionately high growth usually follows a period of stagnation has been illustrated by earlier crises such as the Gulf War and the attacks on September 11, 2001. Forecasts show that by 2027, air traffic will more than double – with the strongest growth coming from connections to the Middle East and Asia/Pacific regions. With regard to the latter, Frankfurt Airport has geographical advantage in that it is the first major European hub airport that you reach when flying from Asia/Pacific. And, with high kerosene prices, airlines will become increasingly attracted by the shortest path to Europe.

Frankfurt will profit from the general long-term traffic growth potential since, in terms of both passengers and airfreight, the airport is one of the 10 largest airports in the world and one of the most important hubs for intercontinental air traffic. Known as the 360-degree hub, because it has a strongly integrated network spanning all continents, Frankfurt outmanoeuvres many European competitors which focus only on particular regions. Our growth initiatives are intended to ensure we maintain and extend this truly global focus.

Key development projects at Frankfurt

Airport Expansion Program (AEP), €4bn

  • Runway Northwest will be completed by 2011 to achieve a 50% total capacity increase (to over 120 coordinated movements per hour).
  • A new ‘eco’ Terminal 3 with 75 aircraft positions, plus associated apron space and additional taxiways, is expected to be finished in 2015. It will include a people-mover, high-speed baggage tunnel linking to existing terminals, and a flexible, modular design.

AIRRAIL Center Frankfurt

This €660m project consists of a futuristic multi-storey complex directly above the long distance ICE train station, that will feature two Hilton hotels, plus office and retail space to be completed by 2009/10. Towering nine floors high at 45m, the building has a total surface area of 185,000sqm. Global consulting firm, KPMG, has already moved its European headquarters there.

Gateway Gardens

A new ‘urban core’ for work and leisure within sight of Terminal 2 that will offer direct road links to the airport, the autobahn system and rail networks. Service companies, hotels, meeting and conference facilities, catering, retail, and entertainment facilities are all expected to establish themselves here by 2016. It will also have its own university campus by 2010/11 which will include the House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM), a research and knowledge centre for specialists in the field.

Mönchhof Logistics Park

Spanning a total area of 110 hectares, the Mönchhof site is the largest contiguous block of commercially zoned land in the region, and is still under development. It offers investors the benefit of low business tax rates and close proximity to the airport’s cargo facilities, which will make it a lure for logistics companies.

Retail expansion

The airport’s Shopping Boulevard, Shopping Avenue and the first phase of the Airport City Mall in Terminal 1, as well as the new marketplace in Terminal 2, are all part of Frankfurt’s €100m+ drive to raise its share of non-aeronautical revenues through the creation of new concepts, more space for shops, restaurants and a wide range of service outlets.

Location and connectivity count

All of Germany’s key economic centres are easily-accessible from Frankfurt airport: from the massive industrial heartland that is the Rhine Ruhr region, to the agglomeration surrounding Stuttgart, which serves as a home to leading international car manufacturers.

Accessibility has been a cornerstone in Frankfurt airport’s development as far back as 1972 when it began moving in the direction of intermodal (air/rail/road) transport. Today, the airport’s long-distance train station serves as a mainline hub in the trans-European high-speed rail network and offers about 167 inter-city trains daily – substantially more than any of the other airports in Europe, with many airlines having Rail & Fly and code-share agreements with the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn. This enables them to use the rail network as a feeder system for their medium and long-haul flights.

A few hundred metres from the airport’s passenger terminals lies the Frankfurter Kreuz, Germany’s most important autobahns interchange for direct access to the A5 (north/south) and A3 (east/west) motorways.

These connections give good access to the whole country, but Frankfurt’s regional catchment area alone is second to none. Some 38 million people live within a 200km radius of the hub – that is practically half of the German population, and substantially more than for the airports located in Amsterdam, London and Paris.

The city of Frankfurt is also Germany’s financial centre, with all major banks, as well as the national stock exchange, based there. It is home to large chemical and pharmaceutical companies, as well as various service-sector firms in fields such as advertising and science. The airport’s employment multiplier is 1:1.73 – thus for every job directly located at the airport, 1.73 jobs are added that would not otherwise exist. The airport is one of the largest local workplaces in Germany, employing 71,000 people, with more than 500 companies located at the airport.

A clear sustainable message

Frankfurt airport has made substantial headway in developing its environmental leadership in the aviation business. It was the first airport in Germany to complete a decade of environmental management through the European Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), a management tool allowing companies to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance.

Fraport has also set climate protection goals for Frankfurt airport which include reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per passenger and per 100kg of freight by 30% by 2020 and expanding the airport in a carbon-neutral way.

Fraport is also listed on London’s FTSE4Good Index and the Dow Jones STOXX Sustainability Index and the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index – the most important indices for sustainability. Since 2008, Zurich-based independent SAM (Sustainable Asset Management) Group has also included Fraport in its Sustainability Yearbook. Furthermore, Fraport was the first airport manager in Europe to receive the Airport Carbon Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI).

As a member of the United Nations Global Compact since July 2007, Fraport also supports the 10 basic principles of this strategic policy initiative for businesses in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The ultimate aim of the project is to help businesses advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

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