Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Airport Story

For a couple of decades....Zweibrucken Air Base quietly existed....at the very end of Germany, next to the French border....about an hour southwest of Ramstein.  When it closed in 1991....the locals wanted to transform the runway area (8,700 feet long) into a commercial airport. For the most part, it was not a bright idea because Saarbrucken Airport was just a twenty minute drive away.  Two low-budget airports just weren't going to support enough business.

For a lot of Americans who lived around Zweibrucken during the glory years....it was a great area and a quiet location with nothing much going on.

Today, the political figures met in Mainz and kinda agreed that Zweibrucken Airport is about to collapse and needs an infusion of cash....from the EU pot.  The number quoted by the Rhein-Zeitung?  Around fifty-six million Euro (figure roughly $65 million dollars).

The problem?  Neither Zweibrucken or Saarbrucken are pulling any good numbers, and the EU rules allow the emergency pot of money for only one airport within a certain region.  Zweibrucken will be the one that gets the cash.

How many passengers does Zweibrucken have potential for?  In 2010, there were 264,000 passengers that transited the airport toward some summer vacation destination.  The airport served as a package-tour hub for folks going to coastal areas of Spain or Turkey.  The open airport parking area was an attraction, and the ramp area having plenty of parking was a plus.

How will the fifty-six million Euro be used?  The political folks just hint that it's for marketing and operations.  I'm guessing they will try to get several tour package companies interested....maybe with a bus deal thrown in, or some deal to get new vacation get-aways enticed (maybe to Qatar, London, or Scotland).  Maybe even Icelandic Air might have some interest.

In the US....you'd just run regular daily operations to make an airport profitable, or you'd allow Congress to just give money to airlines to land at some spot....when there just wasn't enough passengers to make it work profit-wise.  In Germany.....there's too many EU rules over doing things like this now.....so some airports will start to fail, and just go under.

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