Frankfurt-Hahn, Germany



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Frankfurt–Hahn Airport (German: Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn, IATA: HHN, ICAO: EDFH) is an international airport located 10 km (6.2 mi) from the town of Kirchberg and 20 km (12 mi) from the town of Simmern in the Rhein-Hunsrück district of Rhineland-Palatinate to the west of central Germany.

Despite the name, the airport is about equidistant between Frankfurt and Luxembourg – about 120 km (75 mi) to each city by road. It is closer to the German cities of Koblenz at about 70 km (43 mi) and Mainz at about 90 km (56 mi). The airport officially changed the name from Hahn to Frankfurt–Hahn at the same time as Ryanair started flying there. In 2002 Lufthansa took out legal proceedings against Ryanair, claiming the usage of "Frankfurt" in the airport's name to be deceptive advertising, however Lufthansa lost; in a similar case regarding another airport name Ryanair lost. Until 2009 the airport was owned by Fraport, which also operates Frankfurt Airport. In 2016 Frankfurt Hahn Airport served 2.60 million passengers slightly down from 2.66 million in 2015.

Military past

During the Cold War Hahn Air Base was a frontline air base, and home of the United States Air Force 50th Fighter Wing (in various designations) for most of those years as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). It was one of several USAFE bases in Germany (Zweibrücken, Ramstein, Sembach, Bitburg, Spangdahlem, and Rhein-Main) all within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of each other. Beyond their location in the heart of US troop concentrations, these air bases were well situated to reach all locations within Europe and the Mediterranean region.

At the end of the Cold War, Hahn Air Base had more than 13,000 people and three squadrons of F-16 tactical fighters. When the Cold War threat of an invasion of West Germany subsided, the United States was left with a huge excess capacity of expensive airfields in Europe.

As a result, the 50th TFW was inactivated in 1991 after 35 years at Hahn. The 496th TFS was inactivated on 15 May; The 313th TFS on 1 July, and the 10th TFS on 30 September. The 50th Tactical Fighter Wing was inactivated on 30 September 1991. On 30 January 1992 the 50th was activated as the 50th Space Wing at Falcon (later, Schriever) AFB, Colorado.

On 30 September 1993, most of Hahn Air Base was returned to civil German authorities but USAFE retained a small portion as a radio communications site until its final return to German authorities in 2012. It is still frequently used for military charters, these flights being operated by, amongst others, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The German government decided to turn the former NATO airfield into a civil airport. One of the main investors in the development of the new Frankfurt–Hahn Airport was Fraport AG, which primarily runs Frankfurt International Airport, the aim being to reduce the amount of traffic using that airport.

The faculty and police training school of the Rheinland-Pfalz State Police were combined at a new joint facility located at the air base's former housing area in 1996.

Development into a low-cost airport

The German government decided to turn the former airfield into a civil airport. One of the main investors in the development of the new Frankfurt–Hahn Airport was Fraport, which primarily runs Frankfurt Airport, the aim being to reduce the amount of traffic using that airport. However, in 2009 Fraport sold its 65% Frankfurt–Hahn shares for €1 including debt of €120 million to the federal state Rhineland-Palatinate.

Hahn charges its airline operators less than Frankfurt Airport which has made the airport popular with low-cost carriers, especially Ryanair which uses the airport as a major base.

The world record for heaviest single-piece of air cargo, a 189.98 metric tonne generator for a gas power plant in Armenia, was loaded onto a cargo flight departing from Hahn in 2009 using the Antonov 225.

In 2013, Etihad Cargo announced the relocation of their cargo operations from Hahn to Frankfurt Airport, which caused a downturn for the airport as Etihad was one of the most important customers. Additionally, Ryanair cancelled and reduced capacity on several routes for summer 2014 as three of nine aircraft based at the airport were removed.

In January 2014 the airport announced it had accumulated debts of €125 million while passenger and cargo traffic were decreasing. The figures mean the airport could be closed within the next ten years. As of March 2015, the owners, the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse, have sought to sell the indebted airport.

In March 2015, Yangtze River Express announced they too would cease their cargo operations at Frankfurt–Hahn Airport in favour of Munich Airport. Frankfurt-Hahn lost its largest freight customer and four cargo destinations. Months earlier, Qatar Airways and Aeroflot had also ceased their cargo operations at the airport. By July 2015, the airport's freight numbers dropped by 36 percent.

In response to rumors that intends to buy the airport, a spokesperson for the airport revealed in April 2016 that three bids were made on the airport, all three of them coming from China. In June 2016, China's Shanghai Yiqian Trading Company acquired a majority stake in Frankfurt Hahn airport a local German government statement has confirmed. The transaction, whose value was estimated in the "low double-digit million euro range", involved the sale of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate's 82.5% shareholding in the airport. A few weeks later it has been announced that the sale to Yiqian might be cancelled as the company failed to provide the first part of the deferred payment for the airport and general doubts regarding their credibility rose. Finally, the agreement with the Chinese investor fell through which led to severe political trouble and an official inquiry against the responsible politicians. The airport has been put up for sale again in mid July 2016.

Later in June 2016, the cargo subsidiary of Air France-KLM announced to shut down its cargo reloading point at the airport due to internal restructuring measures. Air-France KLM Cargo used facilities at the airport to collect freight and transfer it to Paris, both by trucks. In August 2016, RAF-Avia from Latvia announced to base two aircraft at the airport to operate ad-hoc charter flights.

As of early October 2016, the process of finding a new buyer for the loss-making airport has still not been finished. It has been stated that a closure of the airport and redevelopment into a business park is considered as an option if no solution is to be found in the near future as the airport might face bankruptcy.

In January 2017, the HNA Group, a Fortune Global 500 company, announced that they will invest 40–50 million Euros in the airport in 2017, if they buy it. They plan to have three cargo and three passenger flights to Mainland China each week.