Federal government will plug new billions of holes in air traffic | Free Press

Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – According to his own statements, Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr does not need further state aid from the crown in the medium term.

Although the MDax group had to present red numbers on Thursday for the lucrative summer quarter, thanks to state aid it is in a good position compared to other companies in the sector. Despite all the problems, more than 10 billion euros in liquidity reserves are still a huge sum for the crane group to get through two harsh winters if necessary.

Neither most German airports nor the federally owned German Air Traffic Control (DFS) have been around for that long, whose finances will be the main focus of the federal government’s virtual “air traffic summit” this Friday. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wants to make airports happy with a billion dollar injection and awaits approval from the finance minister.

According to the associations, the situation is more than serious. “There must be no irreparable structural breakdowns,” says BDL industry association CEO Matthias von Randow. “With the second de facto blockade we are faced with job cuts. Out of around 260,000 jobs in German airlines and at airports alone, around 60,000 are seriously threatened. “

As an “important sign and first step,” the federal government should reimburse airports for the costs incurred in the first shutdown to keep infrastructure open politically, says Ralph Beisel of the airport association ADV. These are operating costs of 740 million euros, a sum that should mainly benefit small and medium-sized airports.

The deliberations will also have to involve the federal states, which often together with neighboring municipalities own the airports that are desirable for structural policy. Even before the crisis, very few operating companies made a profit. The outlook is equally bleak if flight operations are reduced to years. Paderborn-Lippstadt Airport has already filed for bankruptcy under its own management, and other locations could soon follow.

For many environmentalists, the German structure with 21 international airports and 10 regional airports and landing sites is too lush anyway. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone there are six international airports, the easternmost in Paderborn, less than 100 kilometers from Kassel-Calden, a grave of millions in North Hesse.

Obsolete structures shouldn’t get billions of grants, believes the eco-oriented traffic club VCD. “Instead of further expanding airports and allocating more funds to regional airports that were not profitable before the pandemic, what is needed is a socially responsible restructuring in the direction of the environmental association,” says VCD President Kerstin Haarmann. State aid should only be awarded to companies that meet clear climate requirements and have a sustainable business model, said Green MEPs Sven-Christian Kindler and Daniela Wagner. This is not the case at many regional airports.

The federal government should also provide future aid to troubled airports in the form of repayable loans that can be converted to equity. This is what Federal Aviation Coordinator Thomas Jarzombek (CDU) suggested. He told the Rheinische Post: “We want to maintain the infrastructure. But if the general public helps, in the end they should get the money back with interest. ”In the case of bonds, the state would become a shareholder if the money was not returned.

Another topic at the summit is the federally owned Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, which could have liquidity problems due to ongoing commission losses. The head of DFS, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, had calculated the loss of sales for 2025 at up to 2 billion euros. Despite a new promissory note loan of more than € 500 million and cost reduction measures, the GmbH still needs help, which the BDL has estimated at € 1.2 billion. Here the federal government has to step in as the owner: “Otherwise, unrealistically high rates would have to be imposed when air traffic restarts, which the airlines could not handle,” von Randow said.

At this point, Lufthansa would also benefit indirectly, as would the demand to completely waive aviation security fees that were postponed until now during the crisis. At the moment, the crane is flying with the ballast of another billion losses in the Corona 20/21 winter. The write-offs of the reactors and kerosene contracts that are no longer needed have increased the loss for the third quarter to just under 2 billion euros, as the group reported in Frankfurt on Thursday. After nine months, the bottom line is now less than 5.6 billion with sales of 11 billion euros.

In the current latest quarter, Lufthansa flight operations will continue to peak at a quarter of previous capacity due to the corona pandemic. Lufthansa expects advantages from its central system, especially established in Frankfurt, as many point-to-point connections in Europe are no longer working and competitors have discontinued their offerings. In addition, due to the high demand for cargo, the airline wants to reuse more converted passenger aircraft and benefit from the distribution of anti-corona vaccines. In temperature controlled drug transport, Lufthansa Cargo and the Swiss subsidiary are world leaders, said CEO Carsten Spohr when presenting interim results.