Fraport AG inaugurates fourth runway at Frankfurt Airport
Posted: 21 October 2011 | | No comments yet
Speech by Dr. Stefan Schulte, Executive Board Chairman of Fraport AG…
The landing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government plane on the new Runway Northwest on October 21, 2011, marked the inauguration of Fraport AG’s fourth runway at Frankfurt Airport (FRA). The inauguration of the 2,800 meter-long runway will secure the future of Germany’s leading gateway for international mobility. Attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hesse Prime Minister Volker Bouffier, Frankfurt am Main Lord Mayor Petra Roth, Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz and other business and political leaders, the inauguration guests were welcomed by Dr. Stefan Schulte, executive board chairman of Fraport AG, who stressed the importance of this infrastructure investment for Germany’s export-oriented economy:
Dear Minister Ramsauer,
Dear Parliamentary Secretary Prof. Scheurle,
Dear Mr. Wichtel,
I welcome you warmly to Frankfurt Airport. Indeed, it is a great pleasure to have you here as the first guests to land on our new Runway Northwest. Your landing marks the successful conclusion of one the largest infrastructure projects in Germany. With your “first flight”, you have officially inaugurated our new runway.
This new runway will allow Frankfurt Airport finally to overcome its capacity constraints and to offer the international aviation industry growth opportunities once again. Equally important, finally we will be able to deliver our airlines and passengers even better punctuality and quality of service now.
Frankfurt Airport is by far the largest airport in Germany and one of Europe’s major hubs for passengers and cargo tonnage. We are the largest hub for Deutsche Lufthansa and the Star Alliance. Some 40 percent of our traffic is in the intercontinental segment, two-thirds of all intercontinental traffic in and out of Germany flies via FRA.
This underscores the real function of our airport: to serve as the gateway to the world for Germany and the German economy. No other airport in Germany can take over this function, which is why the expansion of Frankfurt Airport is so important to the country and to the economy of Hesse and Germany. But to maintain this role, we also need the right framework conditions, politically as well as legally. Urgently and very soon, we need a pragmatic ruling – which is absolutely normal throughout our industry – for delayed departure flights that need to take off in the night hours, just like at every other airport. We cannot have a situation whereby a fully loaded Airbus A380 is forced to stay on the ground and unload its passengers just because its departure slot has been delayed one minute past 23:00.
Furthermore, our role as Germany’s “Gateway to the World” is the reason why we are so concerned about the nighttime ban being imposed on us by the Hesse Administrative High Court. Basically, this is because of the importance of overnight operations for cargo in an international economy that is increasingly organized via the global division of labor; but also in particular because the temporary ban comes at such short notice just before the start of the new Winter Timetable. This is all the more reason why a final decision on the nighttime issue needs to be made quickly by the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig – one that takes into account the interests of both the noise-blighted region as well as the airlines operating worldwide. Let me reiterate that compared to the 40 to 50 nighttime flights that we currently have between 23:00 and 05.00, it will certainly be noticeably quieter.
We are well aware of just how important it is to take into account the interests of residents and to control the noise burden in our region. We all have a responsibility. And we must diligently continue the efforts that we – the airlines, the politicians, the communities, the Aircraft Noise Commission, DFS German Air Navigation Services and Fraport – have started via the Forum Airport and Region with initiatives such as the first Active Noise Abatement package, the new Noise Index and the Study of the Effects of Noise.
This involves monitoring aircraft noise and flight movements, investigating various measures to reduce noise, and optimizing flight movements. The task force that has been deployed here is the right path to take. The next steps have to be taken consistently.
The importance of dialog and of clear and transparent communication about infrastructure projects is underscored by FRA’s expansion. In this case, many of the right things have been done. Together, we have set national standards by creating the Mediation Group, by continuing these discussions in the Regional Dialog Forum and now via the Forum Airport and Region, and by seeking the broad involvement of society as well as political support across party lines.
The results over many years of this continuous dialog in the various forums can be seen: Airport expansion continues to receive wide support from the majority of the population – naturally in tandem with the demand for further success in achieving noise reduction.
At our Happy Landings celebration this summer more than 200,000 citizens got to experience the new runway first-hand. This also shows the high acceptance for airport expansion in our region.
Ladies and gentlemen, there much more that can be said, but stay on schedule I am pleased to pass on the word to our honored guests.
Finally, to all of you who are frequent flyers, particularly our colleagues in the air transportation business, I would like to wish safe operations on this new runway and “always happy landings”.