Frankfurt-Hahn airport is facing insolvency without a government cash infusion, according to a key shareholder of Germany’s fifth-largest air cargo and freighter hub.
The airport, hit by a steep decline in passenger numbers, will exhaust its cash reserves within six months without financial help, said Jochen Riebel, the representative of the state of Hesse which has a 17.5 percent stake.
“The equity capital will be used up in March 2013 and then management would have to file for insolvency,” Reuters quoted Riebel, a former local secretary of state, as telling the Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
The former U.S. Air Force base, which specializes in freighters and budget passenger airlines, lost 10 million euros ($12.4 million) in 2011 and has equity capital of $54.6 million.
Frankfurt-Hahn, which is 82.5 percent owned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, handled 2.9 million passengers in 2011, down from a peak of just over 4 million in 2007. Traffic fell a further 8 percent in the first half of 2012.
Cargo traffic, by contrast, has been a major success, reaching 286,416 metric tons in 2011, more than double the 125,049 tons handled in 2007 and more than eleven times the 25,053 tons in 2001.Including trucking, Hahn’s cargo traffic totaled 565,344 tons in 2011.
The airport has been trying to lure cargo traffic from its bigger rival, Frankfurt airport, some 65 miles away, after it was banned from operating flights between 11 PM and 5AM since last October. Around 25 percent of Hahn’s cargo is transported between these hours.
Hahn and Rhineland-Palatinate have said the airport’s finances will deteriorate in 2013 if passenger numbers continue to fall but deny it would exhaust its equity capital.
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