Deep in Bavaria sits Munich Executive Airport. It is located at Oberpfaffenhofen at the site of the former Dornier plant. The FBO is operated by Rheinland Air Service (RAS) and Thomas Mayr is the FBO Manager. Jo Murray finds out what it is about this airport, its history and its potential that makes it such a promising option for the business aviation community
“The airport is the former production airport for Dornier Aircraft and was in private ownership by the Dornier family for more than 70 years,” explains Mayr. By 2002, Fairchild Dornier has entered bankruptcy proceedings and EADS took over the property. EADS founded EDMO Flugbetrieb GmbH which acts as the airport authority for the airport.
The private airport is situated 25km southwest of Munich City – whereas the publicly owned Munich International Airport is located about 35km northeast of the City. Mayr is at pains to point out that Munich Executive Airport is a totally independent operation that does not rely on the international airport in any way for its business; even aircraft maintenance is available on site.
RAS promotes the airport at Oberpfaffenhofen as “Munich Executive Airport” a much easier name to tackle than the names of its location. In terms of facilities, RAS is promoting a very nice set up. There remain all the old hangars as well as the old production lines now occupied by RUAG. In fact RUAG now has three strings to its bow: first there is the production of A320 family tail parts; then there is the production of the Dornier 228 New Generation aircraft; and finally there is the maintenance organisation for the business jet sector.
Infrastructure itself is also substantial. “The runway is 2,300m long and 40m wide – the ICAO standard – with extended thresholds of about 60m,” says Mayr. In essence, this means that almost any aircraft can land there. “We also have an extended operator’s licence so that we can operate business flights,” says Mayr. “This is a special purpose airport – the special purpose being aircraft production and maintenance as well as scientific flights for the German Aerospace Research Centre.”
There is an ILS on Runway 22 and two published departure routes in direction 22. This runway is in use about 80% of the time and the rest of the time Runway 04 (which does not have an ILS) takes over.
He explains that prior to the new set up at the airport it was difficult for business jets to make use of these facilities; however, since it acquired its extended operator’s licence for business jets a couple of years ago, this has enabled the airport to accommodate business jets up to 25 tonnes. This means that the Falcon, Gulfstream and Bombardier families of aircraft can land there. Just the BBJ and the ACJ are absent.
RAS operates the FBO at Oberpfaffenhofen and can undertake all the usual services apart from refuelling, which is performed by the airport authority on behalf of Air BP. Only RAS operates an FBO at the airport – there are no other FBO players. It started operations about 18 months ago. “There was no other handling service before we started,” says Mayr. “It really was a clean sheet of paper.”
He continues: “We started with an office and now we have a public lounge with a TV room. We are now adding two quiet rooms equipped with beds and chairs to relax in. Last summer we installed a garden lounge.” About 90% of traffic is business travellers. There is also a general aviation aspect to the airport.
RAS has committed €500,000 investment to date in Munich Executive Airport. This includes VIP cars, tugs, toilet service equipment and a de-icing truck.
“Our next step is to offer the airport and our facilities to jet operators to base their aircraft at Munich Executive Airport instead of Munich International Airport. The International airport is full, the hangars are full and we have enough capacity for operators to make their homes with us,” says Mayr. He says that once operators see the airport’s handling process and how easy operators gain access to the apron, the advantages will be evident to them.
Of course growth of any business aviation airport has to be managed carefully so as not to upset the local status quo. However, the airport’s operator licence is in place and the airport is working within the limits set by that licence so the path ahead is clear.
But let’s face facts. The bankruptcy of Fairchild Dornier had devastating effect on the community nearly 10 years. This event was a shock for the entire region. Today, the airport is becoming a honey pot for businesses, investors and general economic activity. This all drives job creation and growth. Surely that is positive all round.