Volumes of freight at Leipzig/Halle Airport, Germany’s second-largest air cargo hub, have increased more than tenfold since 2007 and continue to grow at a disproportionately high rate. To cope with this, the airport is planning to gradually develop the space that is available in order to keep up with the different requirements. Plans therefore exist to construct an empty container terminal, for example, specially secured parking spaces for trucks and a maintenance hangar for small aircraft.
The airport is also developing its infrastructure for handling air freight and will therefore be able to meet the continual growth in volumes.
This increase in cargo volumes at Leipzig/Halle Airport is particularly due to the global rise in e-commerce trade and the annual increases in volumes handled at the DHL hub in Leipzig as a result of this. In order to stay abreast of this development and its positive effects for the Central German region as well as safeguard this ongoing development process in the long term, Leipzig/Halle Airport, as the owner of the land, is also preparing to expand its infrastructure in the freight sector.
Infrastructure expansion in the DHL hub area
The plans involve expanding apron 4, building additional taxiways and enlarging buildings. In order to prepare the way for the plan revision procedure required for this, Leipzig/Halle Airport is intending to submit the associated documents to the Saxon State Directorate at the beginning of 2019.
The apron 4 area is located in the south-west part of the airport and is used by DHL Express to operate its largest air freight hub anywhere in the world.
The expansion work is necessary because of the continual rise in the volume of shipments at the DHL hub in Leipzig. The numbers of items handled have risen by about 150,000 since 2010 to a figure of 350,000 every night at the moment, for instance.
This long-term development means that the parking space for aircraft needs to be expanded. Then there is the fact that larger cargo aircraft will be transporting freight within the DHL network in future. They will include the Airbus A330 freighter planes, which will be integrated as new aircraft in the fleet, for example.
The expansion of parking spaces for aircraft in the hub area is also necessary, as the stand space capacity at the airport’s three other apron areas is being fully used at peak periods because of the general development in traffic. The apron expansion work is therefore essential for the long-term ongoing operations of the hub at Leipzig/Halle Airport.
Scale of the project
The plans involve extending the stand space capacity for aircraft and two taxiway links from the apron area to the southern runway. They also involve constructing two taxiways in the north-east and south-east areas for the southern runway; plans for the latter have already gained official approval.
Overall, the planned space for taxiways and apron expansion covers an area measuring 67 hectares.
The additional taxiways at the north-eastern end of the southern runway will help provide better links to the northern runway.
The apron 4 area was put into service in 2007. It was expanded for the first time in 2010 and offers space for as many as 60 aircraft. The planned expansion project would enable as many as 36 additional parking spaces, depending on the aircraft type. Most of the space for expanding the apron area is located within the airport site.
The planned investments for constructing the taxiways and expanding the apron area will total about EUR 210 million and will be made available by Leipzig/Halle Airport. The investments are being funded by the revenues from traffic operations and the income from the long-term renting of the apron areas.
Part of the expansion plans: surveys on the effects
Leipzig/Halle Airport is obtaining extensive reports from experts to assess the effects that could occur as a result of the expansion plans. They include an environmental impact study, a survey on the development of traffic volumes, reports on the noise levels on the ground, caused by flights and the general situation as well as surveys on emissions that cause air pollution. Specialist surveys will also be conducted on protecting various species and the natural surroundings – and there will be an accompanying landscape conservation plan.
Johannes Jähn, Board Member of Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG and Managing Director of Flughafen Leipzig/Halle GmbH, has issued this strong statement:
“The long-term commitment by DHL at Leipzig/Halle Airport was the crucial factor in ensuring that the airport would become an air freight and logistics site of European significance and a growth engine for the Central German region.” Jähn continues, “The fact that we can now deliberately tap into existing reserve space is a significant advantage at our airport site and this forms the basis for growth that meets demand. As with previous expansion projects, we’ve not only kept our eye on the development of the airport as an air traffic and logistics site in our planning work, but also the extensive protection of people and the natural environment.”