Schulte demands EU "alleviation for airports"
Dr Stefan Schulte, Fraport AG's new executive board chairman, has presented the European Commission with a three-point package of demands for alleviating the burden faced by airports. Speaking to journalists in Brussels today, Schulte advocated the "complete abolition of regulations for liquids in carry-on baggage." However, he disapproved of any rushed and costly interim solutions regarding liquid restrictions. He said that it would be better to wait until new technologies are available that detect prohibited liquids in hand luggage.
Schulte explained that the rationality of aviation-security regulations needed to be urgently examined. Ground processes - amounting to 35 percent of the total operating costs of European airports - are as costly and burdensome for a transfer airport like Frankfurt (FRA) as fuel costs are for the airlines. Before the 9/11 terror attacks the share of fixed costs amounted to between five and eight percent. In view of the current economic and financial situation, it is also "a prime necessity to make the economic life of airports a little easier."
Commenting on the EU Commission's proposal for a directive on aviation security charges, Schulte stated that this proposal was incompatible with the new directive on airport charges and,
furthermore, does not address the central responsibility of the member states. Focusing on independent regulatory agencies and arbitration proceedings in cases of dispute, the proposal does not address the States' ultimate responsibility for security matters. Safeguarding against acts of terror is in essence a sovereign duty of the State. Schulte called on the members of the European Parliament to remain steadfast vis-a-vis the plans of the EU Commission - especially since the directive on charges was already amended only half a year ago.
Fraport's CEO also voiced criticism on the revision of the EU slot allocation directive. As part of their legal obligation to operate the airport, airport companies must hold available an infrastructure that is open to all users during operating hours. The extremely high share of fixed costs requires an efficient and cost-effective use of airport capacities. No economy can or should afford idling capacities at major airports such as Frankfurt, which has faced an excess of demand for many years.
Therefore, Schulte called on the EU Commission to review the slot allocation directive. This directive should contain "clear and economically justifiable regulations for using the existing infrastructure as efficiently as possible".
Schulte stated that Frankfurt Airport is playing a pioneering role in sustainable growth and environmental responsibility." He pointed out his company's plans for expanding FRA in a carbon-neutral way and to reduce carbon emissions per traffic unit by 30 percent by the year 2020. Together with Munich, Frankfurt Airport was the first airport in Germany to introduce emissions-based airport charges at the beginning of 2008 for a multi-year test phase. Thus, FRA has also become a founding member of the Airport
Carbon Accreditation (ACA) scheme, whereby European airports are committing themselves verifiably to reducing CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
In addition, Schulte underscored "Fraport's role model in the use of electric vehicles". Ten percent of Fraport's vehicle fleet runs on certified green electrical power. The first mass-produced electric vehicle available in Europe is currently undergoing the first major practical testing in Germany at Frankfurt Airport. Fraport plans to increase the share of electric vehicles in its fleet in the future.
In conclusion, Schulte described Fraport's Airport Expansion Program (AEP) as decisive for the future viability and competitiveness of Frankfurt Airport. It will also help the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region to maintain its position as an "economic powerhouse in the European competition for attracting businesses." Expanding Germany's central air transportation hub is a task of national importance, stated Schulte.