Air Transport World

Countdown on Munich II: massive new replacement for overburdened Riem and the first new European airport since Charles de Gaulle, nears opening.

Munich-Thirty years after initial planning and 10 years after builders resumed work following environmentalists' protests and court-ordered interruptions, the construction countdown is running for a monumental successor to Munich's Riem Airport. Spread over the Bavarian countryside northeast of Munich, it occupies five times the available space at Riem.

"For the rest of Europe, the new-airport construction map i's a blank piece of paper," says Karl-Heinz Neumeister, secretary-general of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) in Brussels. "Worldwide traffic is to double over the next decade but building new airports or extending existing ones takes more than decades. Munich is a drastic example of this."

Despite regional hopes for Munich II, the airport, which is scheduled to open at the end of next May, obviously won't be a panacea for European-aviation bottlenecks. Increasingly, arguments are being heard-as is the voice of IATA Air Transport Action Group Chairman Dick White-that a cooperative solution between governments and the aviation industry must be found to counter the airspace and airport congestion problems bedeviling Europe but Asia as well.

The long-awaited substitute for hopelessly overburdened Munich-Reim is the last completely new airport to be built in Europe in this century and the first since Paris Charles de Gaulle opened in 1974-a second terminal came in 1978. The size of the Munich effort-5,000 workers on site-parallels major airport construction in Denver and Osaka. Owners are the federal state of Bavaria, 51%, the German federal government, 26% and the city of Munich, 23%.

Seen in the context of Germany's economic clout as the world's largest exporting nation, the role of Munich 11 takes on added significance with German unification and the opening of Eastern Europe. Also, while Germany accounts for just over 19% of the total European long-haul market, travel specialist Anthony Edwards of London-based Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that it will rise to 24% by 2000. As Germany thus becomes Europe's leading long-haul market, ahead of the U.K., a growing portion of that traffic conceivably will utilize the modern facilities of Munich II. Over all, distant-ravel from Europe is predicted to surge 145% by the turn of the century. …

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