Residents reject third runway at Munich

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Published: June 18, 2012

Lufthansa aircraft takes off from Munich Airport. Courtesy, FMG/Dr. Werner Hennies

Local residents have voted against development of a third runway at Munich Airport (MUC), Germany’s second-biggest airport. Just over 54% of polled voters were against the new runway and 45.7% in favor, according to Sunday’s preliminary results.

“The fact that a relative majority of Munich residents voted against the construction of a third takeoff and landing strip shows how difficult it has become to make clear the significance of important infrastructure projects in our country,” MUC chief Michael Kerkloh said in a statement.

“MUC is operating already 10 hours a day on runway capacity limits. This is okay during good weather period like in the summer, but getting worse in tough winter scenarios,” a MUC spokesperson told ATW. “So far, we cannot say if and when we could continue with the €1.2 billion ($ 1.5 billion) project,” the spokesperson said.

MUC operator Flughafen Munchen (FMG) began planning a third runway six years ago. The airport received planning approval in July 2011 from the regional Bavarian government for the construction of the runway, which would have allowed it to handle up to 120 movements per hour, up from 90 (ATW Daily News, Aug. 5, 2011).

The residential vote has dealt a blow to airlines clamoring for growth in Europe’s biggest economy.

“We believe that growth could not go forward as planned without the third runway,” Thomas Kluhr, Lufthansa (LH) passenger airline board member-Munich and Direct Services, said in a statement. LH will continue to operate at MUC but Kluehr told German News TV Bayerische Rundschau, that in the long term, LH could shift investments to other hubs in its system, such as Vienna or Zurich.

German airlines have already been hit by a night-flight ban at Frankfurt Airport (ATW Daily News, April 5) and delays to the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg International (ATW Daily News, May 18).

MUC handled almost 38 million passengers last year and expects more than 50 million in 2015, due to a €650 million ($ 856.8 million) expansion of its Terminal 2, a joint project between FMG and LH (ATW Daily News, May 2).

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