Bender: "Frankfurt Airport is on the Path to Becoming a Leading A380 Hub"
Airport and airline managers from around the world are meeting in Frankfurt today and tomorrow to discuss how the new Airbus A380 superjumbo will change global aviation. "Welcoming the A380" is the motto of this unique conference, the first dedicated solely to the A380. Fraport AG is hosting the two-day event.
Fraport AG�'s executive board chairman, Dr. Wilhelm Bender, greeted the approximately 150 conference participants this morning. In his speech, Dr. Bender emphasized that, since the beginning of the 1990s, Fraport AG has firmly believed in this next generation widebody aircraft. Inaugurated in 1994, Frankfurt Airport�'s Terminal 2 was conceived from the outset for aircraft with the dimension of the A380.
Dr. Bender stressed that Frankfurt Airport "is on the path to becoming one of the leading hubs for the A380 superjumbo." This coming jet generation will impact the aviation industry, just as the Boeing "jumbo" did a quarter of a century ago.
Frankfurt Airport (FRA) will be prepared well in time. By the middle of this year, FRA�'s Terminal 2 will have one aircraft parking position available for receiving the first A380 route test-flights. One of the two passenger bridges at this parking position will be able to dock directly with the upper deck of the superjumbo.
According to current plans, the first A380 route test-flights to and from FRA are expected to take place already by the end of 2005. Lufthansa, Fraport�'s main customer, will put its double-decker Airbus jets into service in 2007; Lufthansa has ordered a total of 15 A380s. Thus, Frankfurt Airport will serve as the base for the second largest superjumbo fleet in the world, after Dubai.
A prerequisite for stationing the Lufthansa superjumbos at FRA is the creation of a new A380 maintenance base, to be located at the southern side of Frankfurt Airport. Fraport AG�'s market researchers expect Germany�'s largest airport to be handling about twenty A380 takeoffs and landings daily by 2010.
FRA�'s runway system will not have to be modified to accommodate this new aircraft generation. Runway North of Frankfurt�'s two parallel runways is 60 meters wide and meets the so-called "Airport Code F" for A380 category aircraft. Runway South and Runway 18 West (used for takeoffs only) both are 45 meters wide and have 7.5-meter-wide reinforced shoulders on the right and left sides. FRA has three runways, all 4,000 meters long. Specialists from Fraport AG as well as all of the other major air transportation hubs expect the A380 to be certified for such runways.
Regarding airside measures, FRA will only need new markings on the apron (ramp) areas and the passenger loading bridges will have to be adapted to the A380s dimensions. Apron areas currently used for parking ground-handling equipment will have to be used A380 handling in the future, too. At Terminal 2, there will initially be two parking positions available for the A380 by 2007. The first of these positions is already expected to be available by the middle of 2006. Here, two passenger bridges are planned for serving the A380�'s lower deck and a third passenger bridge for the upper deck. At Terminal 1, as a first phase there will be three A380-compatible parking positions available by 2007.
Corresponding passenger gate-rooms also have to be redesigned and enlarged. These A380 measures required for both of FRA�'s passenger terminals will involve a total investment of about 150 million.
On the ramp, new and more powerful aircraft towing vehicles will be required for the long trips to the maintenance facility, for example. New catering trucks and cargo-lifting vehicles will be needed to reach the greater height of the A380 upper deck.
Fraport AG has maintained intensive dialogue with the European Airbus consortium for many years. For example, airport know-how has helped influence construction details of the A380 - to ensure that ground handling will run as smoothly as possible. The goal is for the A380�'s time on the ground not exceed the time required for the B747 jumbo.