Increasingly constrained by a lack of slot availability on its two existing runways, Munich Airport is hoping its planned third runway will open for flights in six years’ time.
Dr. Michael Kerkloh, president and CEO of Flughafen München GmbH, Munich Airport’s operating company, estimates that the earliest date the planned third runway can become available for operations is 2022.
Speaking to www.AirlinesAndDestinations.com minutes after the opening ceremony for Munich Airport’s €900 million ($1.01 billion) new Terminal 2 Satellite facility concluded on April 22, Kerkloh said that while the airport already has legal approval for construction of the third runway, construction remains “subject to [receiving] a political green light”.
Talks over the new runway – the need for which was legally challenged in court by several local environmental and resident groups – are due to begin soon between the Federal State of Bavaria and the City of Munich, Kerkloh said.
(Both Dr. Markus Söder, the Bavarian state finance minister and the chairman of Flughafen München’s supervisory board, and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter spoke at the T2 Satellite inauguration ceremony.)
Kerkloh said he expected the talks between Munich Airport’s two main political overseers to last about 18 months and for the discussions to reach approval for construction of the runway to go ahead.
After that, said Kerkloh, the political bodies will review “options and procedures” for construction of the runway. Plans call for it to be located parallel to but more than a kilometer northeast of Runway 08L/26R, the northernmost of the airport’s two existing parallel runways.
At Munich Airport’s annual financial results press conference on March 23, Kerkloh said the third runway was intensely important to the airport’s future, because Munich Airport is rapidly running out of available landing and take-off slots on its two existing runways.
The airport saw nearly 380,000 aircraft movements in 2015 – over 3,000 more than in 2014 – and Kerkloh said on March 23 that slot requests the airport had already received from airlines for 2016 indicated aircraft movements this year would grow by about 15,000.
In fact, said Kerkloh, Munich Airport’s slot scarcity is becoming so severe – by 2015 slots on the two runways were fully booked for two-thirds of the airport’s 16-hour operating day – that now it would be unable to accommodate another airline request similar to that of Transavia, which received permission to base four aircraft at Munich Airport for its summer 2016 schedule.
At present Munich Airport’s total hourly slot capacity is 90 movements. Opening the third runway would increase the airport’s hourly slot capacity to 120 movements, adding 25 per cent more movement capacity.
One major factor which could help ensure political approval for the third runway to be built is that neither the State of Bavaria nor the City of Munich will need to pay for its construction. This was also the case during construction of Terminal 2 and the Terminal 2 Satellite.
Both of those massive construction projects – Terminal 2, used by Lufthansa, its codeshare-partner airlines (including all Lufthansa Group-owned airlines) and Star Alliance carriers, cost about €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) to build in 2003 – were financed by a 60:40 joint venture between Munich Airport and Lufthansa Group.
This joint venture operates both Terminal 2 (at a profit) and the new Terminal 2 Satellite, which has no direct landside access but which initially will be able to handle 11 million passengers a year.
However, Flughafen München GmbH itself will pay the entire construction cost for the third runway. At the March 23 annual results news conference, Kerkloh took pains to point out that, despite persistent rumors that taxpayers would finance the new runway, Munich Airport’s €460 million ($527 million) annual cash flow gives Flughafen München ample reserves it can use to pay for the construction.
In 2015 Munich Airport recorded an increase of 1.3 million passengers over the previous year, its passenger total increasing to more than 41 million.
Kerkloh told www.AirlinesAndDestinations.com on April 22 that the airport expects to maintain an average annual increase of about 1.5 million passengers a year throughout the foreseeable future, though that primarily depends on Munich Airport’s continuing development as a major Star Alliance connecting hub.
Munich Airport is, in fact, Star Alliance’s second-largest connecting hub, only Frankfurt Airport topping it, Mark Schwab, CEO of Star Alliance, told reporters on April 22.
Schwab said Munich Airport’s 35-minute guaranteed connecting time for Star Alliance passengers – it used to be 30 minutes but the opening of the new midfield satellite terminal has caused the airport to increase its official Terminal 2 connecting time by five minutes – represents a best-practice example for all of Star Alliance’s 40-plus connecting hubs.
The Terminal 2 Satellite’s 11-million annual passenger capacity was added primarily to allow Lufthansa and partner carriers to reduce the amount of busing of passengers they need to do between Terminal 2 and remote aircraft stands on the eastern edge of the East Apron.
Today some 12 million passengers annually are bused to and from Terminal 2 and the remote stands. However, all passengers using the Terminal 2 Satellite will be boarded and disembarked via air bridges for the satellite’s 27 aircraft contact points, which serve 52 gates. These contact points can serve 27 narrowbody aircraft or a maximum of 11 widebodies, including up to five A380s.
To cope with additional passenger numbers in the future, Munich Airport has a number of longer-term strategies available. One is potentially to add a ‘Pier East’ to the center of the new satellite’s eastern façade and at right angles to it.
This would add another 16 aircraft contact points, allowing 16 more narrowbody aircraft or up to 10 more widebody aircraft to dock, and increase the satellite’s overall annual passenger capacity to 17 million.
Further into the future, Munich Airport’s master plan includes the possibility of a new satellite terminal – Satellite B – being constructed even farther to the east and located at the far side of a greatly expanded East Apron.
However, Kerkloh said on April 22 that Munich Airport’s next major construction project is the refurbishment of Terminal 1.
Like Terminal 2, Terminal 1 is a north-south-aligned terminal, but it is located on the western rather than the eastern side of the airport’s central area.
Terminal 1 handles passenger flights by all airlines serving Munich except Lufthansa, its codeshare partners and Star Alliance carriers. Today Terminal 1 handles about 13 million passengers annually. (Terminal 2 handles some 28 million, though its nominal design capacity is just 25 million.)
However, since at present Terminal 1, which opened in 1992 when the airport itself opened, is the only terminal at the airport which has A380 flights arriving and departing (Lufthansa hasn’t based any of its A380s at Munich), it needs upgrading.
This could add further passenger capacity to that offered by the Terminal 2 Satellite and a future Pier East.