Stuttgart Runway Work Leads To Flight Suspensions

Delta Air Lines has been forced to cancel some of its upcoming flights between Atlanta and Stuttgart due to construction work on the Stuttgart Airport runway. The German airport will be undergoing construction in spring 2020. Delta Air Lines has apologized to customers and offered alternative routes, citing aircraft size as the reason for flight suspension.

Delta, Boeing 767-300
Delta will not be able to fly its 767 into Stuttgart during construction. Photo: Quintin Soloviev via Wikimedia Commons

Details of Delta’s flight suspension

Delta Air Lines has offered its apologies to customers after announcing that there will be a temporary suspension on one of its services to Europe. As a result of construction work at Stuttgart Airport in Germany, Delta Air Lines has decided to suspend its flight between the city and Atlanta in the US. The cancelation will take place between 29th March 2020 and 17th June 2020.

Whilst the concrete resurfacing is pretty standard work, it will mean that Stuttgart’s runway is shorter than normal. On its website, the airport foresees that the runway will be drastically shortened during the first part of the phase. It says:

“From 23 April to 20 May 2020, aircraft will use a shortened runway with a maximum length of 1,965 meters…From 21 May to 17 June 2020, planes will take off and land on a runway that is expected to be 2,475 meters long.”

For Delta, this will be just too small for the aircraft it operates on the route.

Delta 767-300
Delta Air Lines’s aircraft cannot operate on the shortened runway. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

Delta’s route between Atlanta and Stuttgart

Delta operates a non-stop service between Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Stuttgart Airport (STR) five times a week. The service runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, Delta will cut this service short because the runway at Stuttgart does not fit its needs.

It flies a Boeing 767-300 on the route which requires somewhere in the region of 2,713 meters of runway to take off. At no point during the construction phase of the airport will Stuttgart meet this requirement.

For that reason, Delta will not resume flying into Stuttgart until the work has been completed. That will be on 18th June 2020. The configuration of the runway has left Delta very few options to fly its own aircraft. As a result, it urges customers to fly with Air France or KLM on their 1-stop routes via Paris or Amsterdam.

Why fly with KLM or Air France?

This route option works because these airlines fly larger aircraft into other airports and then use smaller aircraft which can operate on the Stuttgart runway.

On KLM’s flight KL0624 from Atlanta to Stuttgart, the air carrier swaps a Boeing 787-10 for an Embraer 175 to fly between Amsterdam and Stuttgart. Air France’s flight AF0689 from Atlanta to Stuttgart uses a Boeing 777-200 which is then swapped for an Embraer 170 at Paris Charles De Gaulle to fly to Stuttgart.

KLM E175
The E175 needs around 2,600m of runway. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr

According to Embraer, the Embraer 170 needs a runway length of 1,151 meters for takeoff and between 1,228 and 1,241 meters for landing. The Embraer 175 needs a takeoff runway length of 1,266 meters and a landing field length of 1,259 to 1,261 meters. Since the runway at Stuttgart will never be less than 1,965 meters, these aircraft will not have a problem continuing to operate there.

Air France Hop!
Air France’s E170 will be able to operate at Stuttgart. Photo: Curimedia via Wikimedia Commons

What’s happening at Stuttgart Airport?

Currently, no other airlines appear to be hindered by the construction work happening at Stuttgart Airport.

The runway will be undergoing maintenance in about two months’ time and will happen in two phases. The runway will be under construction for 28 days between 23rd April 2020 and 17th June 2020. The guiding reason for the maintenance is safety concerns. The runway that will be constructed was fitted in the middle of the 1990s. In order to prevent excess wear on the runway from adverse weather effects and aircraft landing, the runway needs to be replaced.

Will you be affected by these changes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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