Last Update: at 12:37

Joint venture

Lufthansa relies on Munich model in Frankfurt

Lufthansa and Munich Airport jointly operate Terminal 2, and now the airline also wants to set up a joint venture in Frankfurt.

Lufthansa and Frankfurt Airport – that was certainly not a love affair in the past few years. Germany’s largest airline repeatedly accused Germany’s largest airport of charging too high fees for too little quality. Lufthansa thus weakened Frankfurt in favor of Munich. Only a few days ago, it was announced that all remaining Airbus A380 would be stationed in Bavaria’s capital city after the Corona crisis.

But now Lufthansa and Frankfurt’s operator Fraport are taking a new approach to improve cooperation. As Fraport CEO Stefan Schulte explained at the Group’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday (May 26) with regard to the airline: «We have agreed to work even closer together in Frankfurt.» In the coming weeks, a joint venture will be established to further develop the airport. The aim is to strengthen the hub and develop the infrastructure.

The first Boeing 777-9 are to fly to Frankfurt

With a joint venture, Lufthansa is now using the same model in Frankfurt that it has been using in Munich for years. There, Lufthansa and the airport have been operating Terminal 2 together since 2003, and the partners also jointly announced the planned expansion of the terminal in December 2019. The airport speaks of a joint venture that is «unique in Europe», but this will probably change as a result of the plan in Frankfurt.

In fact, Lufthansa has made decisions in favor of Frankfurt in spite of all the differences in recent years. For example, it moved its leisure flights with its subsidiary Eurowings on a grand scale from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt, while it also announced the closure of the Eurowings base in Munich. In addition, Lufthansa itself intends to put its first examples of the new long-haul Boeing 777-9 to Frankfurt.

Fraport jumps in to help Lufthansa with slots

The announcement of the joint venture comes just at the moment when the EU Commission could demand that Lufthansa surrender slots in Frankfurt and Munich due to the state aid granted. Fraport CEO Schulte explained accordingly at the Annual General Meeting: «We are clearly in favor of Lufthansa retaining its slots.» It is important that Fraport’s main customer can maintain and gladly expand its market share in Frankfurt. Intervention by the EU would be a wrong signal for the airport, which is sticking to its expansion plans despite the current crisis.

Only a few days ago, the operator had declared that it would continue the construction of Terminal 3 in Frankfurt. There were two main reasons for this, said Fraport CEO Schulte. Firstly: «We are convinced that air traffic will grow again in the long term.» Secondly, «from a technical and economic point of view, it would be grossly negligent to temporarily put such a major project on hold» and later to ramp it up again with enormous additional costs and technical and structural risks. The opening is planned for 2022.

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