On 31 July 2017, the European Commission approved the aid granted by the German Land of Rhineland-Palatinate to Frankfurt-Hahn airport. The measure aims to cover the airport’s expected operating losses over the period 2017-2021 up to a maximum amount of 25.3 million of euro, ensuring that the airport can continue to serve the area’s transport needs, while the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group makes the necessary private investment to enable the airport’s return to viability, which is due in 2023.
Frankfurt-Hahn airport is currently loss-making. Since 2009, it has been controlled by the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate, which on 1 March 2017 signed a share purchase agreement with the Chinese HNA Group for the sale of its 82.5% of shares in the airport.
According to the Commission Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines of 2014, public funding is allowed to cover the operating losses of smaller regional airports until 2024 under certain conditions. One of these conditions is that a credible business plan is presented, which demonstrates the return of the airport to viability at the latest by April 2024.
In its assessment, the Commission also took into account the importance of the airport for the local economy; the airport is responsible for providing around 11,000 jobs in the region, and there are no other airports located in a radius of 100 km, or one hour’s traveling time, around Frankfurt-Hahn airport. This reduces the potential negative effects of the support on competition and trade.