Why Frankfurt Needs A Third Terminal

While Heathrow Airport is busy working on its third runway, Frankfurt airport’s Fraport has just broken ground on its third terminal. The new terminal will drastically increase Frankfurt’s passenger capacity when it opens in two years time. Why does Frankfurt need this extra capacity though? Simple Flying investigates.

Frankfurt Terminal Three
Frankfurt Airport is home to German national carrier Lufthansa. Photo: Daniel Dargel

A Lufthansa hub

Along with Munich, Frankfurt Airport is one of the main Lufthansa hubs. Indeed, it is where one will find the exclusive Lufthansa first class terminal. Frankfurt Airport has an incredibly strict nighttime curfew known as the Nachtflugverbot.

According to Business Traveller, Lufthansa is becoming increasingly worried by congestion which can cause late night cancellations. With a vast increase in passenger capacity being granted by the new terminal, these worries will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Lufthansa Aircraft
Lufthansa parked their excess fleet at Frankfurt over the Christmas Period. Photo: Lufthansa


Nachtflugverbot literally translates as a night flight ban. Surprisingly, this nightly curfew is even more restrictive than Heathrow’s tight policies. All departures and arrivals between the hours of 2300 and 0500 are completely banned.

For comparison, London’s Heathrow airport has a curfew between 2330 and 0600. While this lasts for half an hour longer than Frankfurt’s ban, the airport is allowed 5,800 operations during these times per year. That means that if there is significant disruption, airlines have some flexibility.

Frankfurt Terminal Three Fraport
Frankfurt Airport is controlled by a strict curfew at night. Photo: Fraport

Increased gate availability

With an increased number of gates, the airport will be able to handle a much larger number of passengers each day. When all of the currently planned phases of Terminal 3 are complete, the airport’s capacity will rise by 21 million passengers each year. Should they need it, Frankfurt Airport can construct an additional pier to handle an extra four million passengers.

By constructing this additional terminal, not only will the airport be able to handle more passengers. It could also cut delays and cancellations.

airplane congestion
It is hoped the new terminal will cut congestion at the airport. Photo: Fraport

Reduced late night congestion

Let us look at a hypothetical scenario. Lufthansa flight LH4321 is due to land at Frankfurt at 21:30, and depart to its next destination at 22:45. If the aircraft has to wait until 22:00 for an available gate due to congestion, it could miss the chance to depart before 23:00.

With an extra 21 million passengers per year worth of capacity, the congestion at the airport should drop considerably for the time being. This will mean that despite not having the ability for a limited number of night flights, the airport should be able to cope with demand.

Frankfurt Terminal Three Fraport
An artist’s impression of Terminal 3. Photo: Fraport

When will Terminal 3 open?

On Monday, the cornerstone for the new Terminal 3 was laid. This incorporates a time capsule to be stored for Frankfurt Airport’s future. Frankfurt Airport’s operators, Fraport, expect that Pier G will open in 2021, two years time. This will increase capacity by five million.

Additionally, in 2023, Piers H and J, along with the main terminal will open. This will have boosted capacity by 21 million. Finally, should there be demand a further pier, known as K, will be constructed. This will allow for another four million passengers.

Do you think the Frankfurt third terminal will succeed in cutting the airport’s congestion? Let us know in the comments!