Frankfurt Airport Delays Terminal 3 Opening Until 2026

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Frankfurt Airport has revealed another delay to the opening of its new Terminal 3. The terminal at the south of the airport was initially slated to open in 2023. However, due to delays primarily attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the terminal is now not expected to open until 2026 at the earliest.

Frankfurt Airport, Terminal 3, Delay
Frankfurt Airport has revealed that it doesn’t expect to open Terminal 3 until 2026. Photo: Fraport

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all corners of the aviation industry, from passengers to airlines and employees. However, airports haven’t been spared from the crisis. Some, such as London Heathrow and Berlin, have had to shut terminals down to save money amid a vast lull in traffic.

Delayed until 2026

It seems that Frankfurt Airport’s new terminal has been delayed once more. Yesterday the airport’s owners, Fraport, released their results for the 2020 fiscal year. The company’s CEO, Stefan Schulte, was clear that the airport doesn’t see any detrimental effect on its long-term growth prospects. However, it has had to make some changes in the short term due to the considerable lack of traffic.

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As part of the results, Schulte revealed that construction on Terminal 3 would continue so that it is ready to meet long-term demand. However, given the recovery still required by the industry before the airport will need it, it will be delayed in opening.

This is the third year-long delay announced in nine months, with the first being revealed in mid-June. The main building and Piers G, H, and J are now all planned to become operational in 2026. This was previously hinted to back in October, so it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

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Frankfurt Airport, Terminal 3, Delay
Construction of the terminal is continuing for when it is needed. Photo: Fraport

Dealing with the pandemic

It’s been just over a year since Frankfurt Airport began to notice the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a significant cargo hub, it remained one of Europe’s busiest airports based on movements. However, it still saw movements drop by up to 90% year on year.

As a whole, Fraport has cut costs at the airports it manages by between €100 million to €150 million ($119 million to $178 million) each year with reductions to its non-essential operations.

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The most obvious examples of this can be seen at Frankfurt Airport itself. The airport’s northern runway is currently in its second closure. As the other runways are sufficient to manage current traffic levels, it doesn’t make sense to open the fourth runway, requiring additional services such as air traffic control and the fire service.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Frankfurt Airport
More recently, the airport’s northern runway has been turned into an aircraft parking lot. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The airport is also currently operating all flights out of Terminal 1. On top of this, only a portion of the terminal is now in use. This has seen the likes of Ryanair’s Boeing 737s using gates designed for Lufthansa’s biggest jets. With one terminal completely closed, it’s a no-brainer that a third terminal is not currently needed.

What do you make of the delay to Terminal 3’s opening? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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