Queues are forming again at the check-in counters and security checkpoints, and life is back in the shops and restaurants. That has often been different over the past two years. Because of the corona pandemic, Munich Airport was like a ghost town at times. Economically, the crisis has hit the airport badly. Munich Airport will also record a high loss in 2021, which at 261 million euros will be almost a fifth lower than in the previous year. At EUR 601 million, sales are a good four percent higher than in 2020, but still 40 percent below the record year of 2019.
The year 2021 also got off to a bad start due to numerous travel restrictions, many of which were lifted in the second half of the year, which is why the passenger volume of around 12.5 million was 12.5 percent higher than in the first Corona year. Freight traffic was of growing importance during this period. The volume here was around 173,000 tons, which corresponds to an increase of almost 15 percent compared to 2020.
The crisis has not yet been overcome in the third Corona year, said Jost Lammers, head of the airport company FMG, at the balance sheet press conference on Tuesday. However, he was optimistic that he would be able to return to pre-crisis levels in just two years. This is proven by the development of this year. During the Easter holidays, the airport booked 13,450 flights, which corresponds to around 70 percent of the level in 2019. Last Sunday alone, FMG counted 100,000 passengers in one day, as many as last March 1, 2020. “Munich Airport has the best prospects of fully fulfilling its role as a premium European hub again in just a few years’ time,” said Lammers.
The areas of the airport that have been closed in the meantime, Terminal 1 and the satellite terminal, have now been in operation again for some time. Looking ahead to the summer, Lammers is confident that business will continue to improve. Because numerous airlines are resuming their connections that were suspended due to Corona, and some of them also serve new routes from Munich. “Overall, we expect a significant increase in flight movements and passengers for 2022,” said Lammers.
Despite the sluggish business, the airport has invested heavily
Then the airport will probably need more staff again. Almost 1,400 jobs were cut during the crisis, the airport currently has around 8,600 employees, before the crisis there were almost 10,000. Ten percent of the workforce is currently on short-time work – until the end of May. With savings like these, it was possible to keep losses within limits and secure the airport’s liquidity, explained Nathalie Leroy, Managing Director for Finance and Infrastructure.
Despite the meager business, the airport also invested heavily in 2021. Among other things, FMG invested 18 million euros in the railway tunnel for the Erdinger Ringschluss, 58 million euros in the new pier in Terminal 1, which could go into operation in 2025, and a further 58 million euros in the Lab Campus innovation site, where companies are to develop future technologies. As early as next year, the investments and running costs are to be managed again without additional loans. The first part of the Lab Campus will be ready for occupancy in May. The first tenants are the American tech group Argo AI, which specializes in autonomous driving, and German air traffic control. The second building is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The missing passengers have also affected shops at the airport. 23 shops had to close, said Jan-Henrik Andersson, the managing director responsible for trade, gastronomy and security. If no rent reductions had been granted, he would have estimated even more. There are still vacancies at the airport. Because only nine companies have reopened. Andersson points to the Mountain Hub Gourmet at the Hilton Hotel. This is the only European airport to have a restaurant that has been awarded a Michelin star.
However, it is still unclear when the airport will be connected to long-distance rail transport. The feasibility study announced last year by Bavaria’s Ministry of Transport is still not available. According to Jost Lammers, there has been a “Task Force Intermodality” since last autumn, which includes not only the airport but also the Free State and Lufthansa. This should improve the connection to the railway. Lammers describes the fact that the airport has no long-distance train connection as a “birth defect”.