An epic political battle of sorts is shaping up in the Rhine Valley region around Wiesbaden. One of the largest airports in Europe....the Frankfurt Flughafen.....is slowly approaching it's limit with the two terminals in operation. So, what they want to do....logically and with business thought in thinking....is to add terminal three.
Terminal three would be across the runway....and would involve somewhere in the neighborhood of three billion Euro, with a baggage system delivering bags from terminal one/two, and a subway or shuttle system bringing passengers from an area approximately three to four kilometers away.
All of this has to be pursued via the local state apparatus.....the Hessen state, and it's in front of the new government, which is run by the CDU (they like the idea) and the Greens (they hate the idea).
The Greens have been putting up a negative view of this for at least five years....knowing that this terminal subject was under review and locals have very mixed feelings. If you live within a mile or two of the runways (multiple now).....you have issues over the noise level. To counter that.....the airport has eliminated flights after 11PM, and forbid any flights taking off until around 5:30AM.
The recommendation to move forward and start construction? It's in front of the state-committee and the Greens have a fair amount of power to limit things.
Where does this go? Well....the Greens will look at the support around neighborhoods and regions of the area, and try to stall the whole. Maybe a year.....maybe two years.....maybe three years. I suspect in some ways that the FRAPORT (the flughafen management staff) team anticipated this, and just forced the hand of the Greens, and asked for early construction approvals when they knew they weren't required.
Here's the thing....the Frankfurt Flughafen is a billion-Euro enterprise. It makes tons of money for Hessen, Frankfurt, and employs well over 20,000 employees in the region in various related or semi-related jobs. It might be true that locals hate the noise level, but every year....they add more jobs....more tax revenue.....and it all benefits the state and local area.
The alternate plan? The FRAPORT guys say none exist....period. The Greens have been hinting for weeks now.....that whatever is put in front of the approval committee.....has to show some alternate concept. So, they simply avoided discussion on this.
Is there an alternate deal for expansion? Well....two curious airports exist outside of the nearby area....Frankfurt-Hahn (about 30 minutes driving west of Frankfurt), and Kassel (2 hours driving north of Frankfurt). Frankfurt-Hahn is marginally operating currently with probably forty flights a day, along with some commercial-hauling operations. Their 12,000 foot runway is one of the longest in Europe.
Utilizing Frankfurt-Hahn within the FRAPORT operation? Basically, you'd have to build a shuttle train deal to whisk passengers from Hahn to the flughafen operation in Frankfurt....figure a twenty-minute rapid rail deal. Not entirely impossible, but it is separate from the airport, and means some limitations. Oddly enough....Hahn has no hourly limits and would easily accept flights twenty-four hours a day.
The Kassel Airport? 8,200 feet long and surrounded by farms. Total flights a week out of Kassel? Roughly four....maybe another six.....during the week (we aren't even talking daily flights). No one in Kassel would complain about expansion or late-night flights. The shuttle train from there into the flughafen? Twice as expensive and likely taking 75 minutes as a minimum....to commute.
I'm guessing that FRAPORT really doesn't think they will get permission here and now.....but they are simply putting the paperwork up and waiting patiently for the Greens to fall out of favor in the next election. A delay of a year or two....won't matter, in my humble opinion.