Effects of Airports on the Society

How Frankfurt Airport can meet its Regional Social Responsibility and yet Promote core Interests.

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2014

25 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Content

List of Figures & Tables:

Abbreviation List:

1. Introduction

2. New Airport Environment and Effects on the Society
2.1 Changing forces in today’s airport industry
2.2 Positive and negative Effects of Airports on the Society in General

3. Case Study: Frankfurt Airport
3.1 Facts and Figures about the Rhein/Main Airport
3.2 Past and ongoing conflicts around the airport expansion plans
3.3 Benefits of Frankfurt Airport and the “Ja zu FRA” Campaign

4. Social responsibility at Frankfurt Airport
4.1 Social Responsibility understanding of airports and strategy Impact
4.2 SWOT analysis of Fraport’s social responsibility

5. Possible solutions and opportunities to solve regional conflicts

6. Conclusion and supra-regional outlook



List of Figures & Tables:

Table 1: Aircraft departures worldwide 1975-2011, World Bank, own illustration

Figure 1: Factors Impacting the Airport Industry, Aaronson, own illustration

Figure 2: Frankfurt Airport Overview, own illustration, FAZ,

Figure 3: Fraport Sustainability Strategy, Fraport.de

Figure 4: Hongkong Materiality Assessment, HKG Airport

Abbreviation List:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

The air transport industry is despite all challenges a continuously growing sector. The World Bank publishes registered airlines departures every year: In 2012 3.3 times more planes departed than in 1975 and still 1.4 times more than in the year 2000.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 1: Aircraft departures development 1975-2011, World Bank, Own Illustration

It is out of question that this rapid increase of aircraft movements of today more than 30 million per year (table 1) had and will have effects on the surrounding areas of airports. ICAO even predicts the number to rise up to 50 million by the year 2030 with many new airport facilities needed.[1]

In Germany the “Frankfurt Startbahn West 18” construction in the 1980’s was one of the most negative experiences with two shot protesters.[2] This tragic event but also the ongoing protests around the world show the need of improving airport expansion strategies and interaction with the society.

This paper will therefore illustrate the positive and negative impacts of airport operations on the society. Further, using the example of Frankfurt Airport and its pro and contra initiatives, the social responsibility of an airport will be described and possible solutions and opportunities to reduce conflicts will be brought up.

Thereby sustainability of airports includes fields like economic profitability, operational safety, environmental responses to air operation impacts and the regional society.[3] Social responsibility can be defined as “the obligation of an organization's management towards the welfare and interests of the society in which it operates.”[4]

2. New Airport Environment and Effects on the Society

2.1 Changing forces in today’s airport industry

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Factors Impacting the Airport Industry, Aaronson, own illustration

In general today’s airports are much more commercial and battle-experienced (in regards to expansion protests or natural catastrophes) than some years ago. The focus on profits increased and more strategic approached are looked at.

Figure 1 shows the main impact factors for airports. External shocks like wars, terrorism or diseases in different nature, scale and shorter timings led to the need of being more diverse in regards to the income sources and more flexible in starting expansions only if demand recovers after those crisis. Major changes to the structure of the industry like the commoditization of air travel, technological changes like the A380 and also update in geopolitical traffic right negotiations made it necessary for airports to find new solutions. Smaller airports in Europe for example now need to find ways of very cheap operation and fast turn-arounds[5] of low-cost carriers (LCCs).

The technical changes of e.g. larger aircrafts lead to new requirements of large gates, apron positions etc. Also on the strategic side changes are ongoing: Many airports have experienced privatization and are now owned by multi-national operating companies with increasing focus on good returns.

Most important for this paper are the community integration factors. The need of greater integration of the communities airports serve is significantly increasing. On the one hand environmental impacts (e.g. noise emissions) of all players at an airport is usually taken to the airport by the society. Airlines and manufacturers have not been very responsive to people’s complaints. On the other hand pressure from regional planning regimes (surrounding townships) is going up when airports try to utilize their land assets also for non-aviation purposes like retailing.

All these factors change the airport sector but two goals remain unchanged: The commitment to a safe and secure aviation operation and the provision of sufficient capacity to serve trade, investment and tourism traffic.[6]

2.2 Positive and negative Effects of Airports on the Society in General

This part of the paper will give an overview about positive and negative impacts that airports have on the surrounding communities and businesses.

The major pro argument for growing airports is the positive contribution to the economic welfare of the region. This becomes apparent through increases in created value, income and employment. While the internationalization and globalization cause more demand for air traffic, it is of utmost importance for developed nations to offer effective air services as a pre-condition of participating and competing in this opening world.

Airports trigger investments (e.g. runways, buildings, train lines) at the airport which automatically leads to direct employment in the region (people hired for e.g. constructions and their salary), indirect effects[7] (other companies that benefit from employment of the people, e.g. bakery), induced (secondary) effects by higher spending power of all directly or indirectly affected people and attractiveness of the whole region. Same applies for all people employed by companies operating at the airfield. In Frankfurt am Main for example, 78,000 people work at the airport.[8]

The ACI estimates that for 1,000 on-site jobs at European Airports 2,100 indirect/induced jobs are supported nationally, 1,100 regionally or 500 sub-regionally. For 1 million passengers 2,950 national, 2,000 regional or 1,425 sub-regional jobs are secured. The overall impact of airports on the GDP of the regions varies between 1.4-2.5%, excluding tourism effects. In the EU tourism accounts for 5% of total employment and GDP, of course not all tourists travel by air but the catalytic impact is still large.[9] These catalytic effects[10] are created by high-quality air service, productivity gains, cost reductions and therewith increased competitiveness of a whole region. Companies which frequently use air transportation but are not part of the service (e.g. banks, consultancies, car manufacturers) might even come to the regions, leading to even more employment due to an available airport.

Furthermore, there are positive fiscal impacts. Significant amounts of tax revenues (Income, trade, VAT and fuel taxes from the companies/consumers) are collected by the state. The tax contribution to the exquecher through Cologne/Bonn Airport amounts to almost 300 million Euro per year.

Another advantage of airports is the offered “freedom” through many direct flights to all over the world and therewith convenient and often cheaper travel for the people living close to the airport. Airport regions are usually multi-cultural and worldwide products can be acquired as often also air cargo is handled.

There are many empirical and methodological approached to measures these effects but this would go too far here. Main argument is the high welfare effect of large airports whose overall income can amount to more than 3,000 million Euro p.a.[11]

The negative effects of airports on the surrounding communities are partly obvious, like noise, emissions, waste, infrastructure congestions, but also partly not known by many people.

Noise of aircrafts can lead to serious illness of people that are confronted with it every day. In the immediate surroundings of airports continuous decibel levels of around 60 are usual. Health trouble can already occur above 45dB during the night and 55dB during daytime. Heart problems might occur above 55dB during the night.[12]

Another argument is the endangered nature around the airport. On top the noise scares animals away. On a broader level air traffic CO2 emissions have a very negative impact on the global warming. Some tourists might avoid airport region due to congestion and noise. Living costs (price for rent, food, leisure, etc.) are often above less connected regions of a country.

3. Case Study: Frankfurt Airport

3.1 Facts and Figures about the Rhein/Main Airport

Having shown the overall pros and cons of airports, this chapter will describe the concrete example of Frankfurt Airport in Germany which began operation in 1936.

In 2012 the airport handled 57.53 million passengers and 2.02 million tons of cargo on 482,242 flight movements. With these achievements Frankfurt is the 9th biggest cargo airport in the world (3rd in Europe) and the 11th biggest passenger airport. In summer 2013 107 airlines offered services to 295 destinations in 107 countries around the world. The airport is also connected to German high-speed train network, having 170 long-distance ICE trains scheduled per day. Today four runways (3x4,000m, 1x 2,800m) are available for operations. The largest companies are Lufthansa, Fraport and the Federal Police Office.[13] With around 78,000 employees Frankfurt Airport is the biggest workplace in Germany. The city is known as a bank location with more than 300 financial firms in the city.[14]

The Rhein/Main region is located in the center of Germany. 5.5 million people live in 470 cities on around 15,000 km². The 320,000 companies employ 2.9 million people and the GDP of the region was 206 billion Euro in 2008 (8.2% of Germany’s GDP).[15]

3.2 Past and ongoing conflicts around the airport expansion plans

Frankfurt am Main Airport is by far the biggest airport in Germany (almost 50% more passengers than at the second biggest airfield Munich)[16] having a long history of expansion and resulting conflicts with the surrounding society.

There have been protest against the growing airport since the 1960th when the airport operating company started with plans for a new runway “Startbahn West” in north-south direction. There was no real other choice than building the runway west as illustrated in figure 2.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Frankfurt Airport Overview, own illustration, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2007

In 1965 the operator officially requested the construction in times where ecological awareness was growing a total of 100 action for annulment were handed in by activists who were combined in citizen groups. It took ten years until 1980 when the Administrative Court of Hess finally decided to build the runway. From there on activists built huts to avoid the clearing of trees in the respective area. Oftentimes violent collisions happened. Also in the surrounding cities Wiesbaden and Frankfurt up to 120,000 people took to the streets – several demonstrates were injured by police actions.

But in the end the runway (surrounded by a cement wall) was built and started operation in 1984. Years later in 1987 the tragic event of two shot police officers happened at the demonstration for the anniversary of the protests. The man who shot them convicted to 15 years in prison and the protest movement ended in the next weeks.[17]

New protests arose when in 2003 the operator Fraport requested to build a new A380 hangar in CCS for which 21 hectare of protective forest had to be cleared. Local organizations but also Greenpeace and Robin Wood were strongly against this action but first parts were finally ready for use in 2007. Other projects with community resistance were the extension of terminal 1 (A-Plus) in 2012 and the new office area Gateway Gardens (former US Army housing area) that is being built since 2006.


[1] Cf. ICAO (2013)

[2] Cf. Frankfurter Rundschau (2009)

[3] Cf. Brisbane Airport Corporation (2009)

[4] Business Dictionary (2013)

[5] Turn-Around Time: Time between an aircraft is on-blocks until leaving the parking position

[6] Cf. Aaronson, R.-J. (2005) Pages 345-359

[7] Cf. Forschungskreis Tourismus Management Trier e.V. (2002)

[8] Cf. Ja zu FRA (2013)

[9] Cf. ACI (2004)

[10] Catalytic effect: Employment and income generated in the economy by the wider role of the airport in improving the productivity of business and in attracting economic activities, such as inward investment and inbound tourism

[11] Cf. Baum, H. (2005)

[12] Cf. Bündnis für Bürgerinitiativen I (2013)

[13] Cf. Fraport II (2013)

[14] Cf. Ja zu FRA (2013)

[15] Cf. Frankfurt am Main (2012)

[16] Cf. ADV Report (2012)

[17] Cf. Hahn (2013)

Excerpt out of 25 pages


Effects of Airports on the Society
How Frankfurt Airport can meet its Regional Social Responsibility and yet Promote core Interests.
University of Applied Sciences Wildau
Aviation Management Master
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
1654 KB
effects, airports, society, frankfurt, airport, regional, social, responsibility, promote, interests
Quote paper
Tim Wiebusch (Author), 2014, Effects of Airports on the Society, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/272478


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