February 2024

Saarbrücken Airport: Positive balance, solid perspectives

At the annual press conference on February 1st, the management presented the

planning for the next few years and the results of the last year. It became clear that the developments since Corona have been continuously positive and that the airport is positioned economically solid for the coming years.

At the annual press conference in the airport terminal, the management of Saarbrücken Airport (SCN), Rita Gindorf-Wagner and Thomas Schuck, drew a positive balance for 2023 and made it clear that the SCN is economically well positioned for the next years to come.

For the entire aviation industry and the travel sector, the basic conditions remain extremely difficult. The disruptive effects of the Corona crisis are not yet over. And with people´s reluctance to consume in the wake of financial uncertainties, inflation and crises in the world, as well as always growing security requirements and general cost increases, the branch is facing additional challenges. Saarbrücken international airport is no exception.

Nevertheless, the airport recorded growth in all key figures in 2023:· Since the downturn due to Corona, passenger numbers have risen continuously and reached over 309,000 passengers. An increase of 3.5% against the previous year.

  • Almost 29,000 passengers used the scheduled connections. This corresponds to an increase of 12.8%.
  • Tourist flights will remain the most important pillar in the future, too: with 280,000 passengers, there was an increase of 2.5% compared to the same period of the year before.
  • The number of scheduled and tourist flight movements now elevates at 2,973 and rose by 3.5%.

Thus, the development of the airport is in line with the national trend. This also applies to the development of air traffic with increasing European and decreasing domestic frequencies. In terms of the so-called recovery rate, i.e. the ratio of passenger numbers in the last year before Corona and the current year, the SCN with almost 85% even slightly tops the German average of almost 80% . For 2024, the number of passengers is expected to grow to over 345,000.

`It is important to prepare the airport structurally for the coming years so that it fulfills its role as part of the transport infrastructure and as an element to link up Saarland to economic and tourist centers in Germany and abroad. In doing so, the airport contributes to growth and employment in Saarland as a business, science and touristic location. The decisive factors for this are a solid economic basis with a balanced operating result as well as future-oriented investments in the potential of the location,` explains managing director Thomas Schuck.

The managing directors Gindorf-Wagner and Schuck explained in detail which measures the airport will take to achieve a balanced operating result by the end of the European Union’s so-called notification period in 2027. The airport will only receive aid from the Land for the amounts necessary to compensate for operational losses. In this context, security costs for the fire brigade, passenger and baggage checks, federal police, etc. – almost 1.6 million euros in 2023 – shall not be taken into account. These are sovereign activities that the SCN undertakes for the Land and that are compensated for through reimbursement of costs.

Measures that are planned in the process of securing the economic future or have already partly been initiated affect infrastructure, passengers, employees and also commercial partners:

  • Numerous investments in safety (e.g. concrete elements as critical points,

enhanced video monitoring), technology (e.g. completely redeveloped runway strips and approach masts, modern lighting) and energy management (e.g. enlargement of the local heating network, acquisition of PV systems on the southern area) assure that the airport is well positioned for future developments.

  • A new, service-oriented website with app offers booking possibilities for flights, trips, hotels and rental cars as well as assistance with current questions.
  • The SCN shall be developed to an event location, conference rooms and space for events can be booked by interested parties. This ranges from workshops to after-work parties to cultural events or guided tours. First measures shall start this year.
  • Collaboration with existing partners such as the Bundeswehr (207 flight movements in 2023) or local maintenance and repair shops.
  • Focus will also be set on further developing the airport as an attractive employer.

` Due to its age structure, the workforce of the airport is presently going through a generation change. A shortage of skilled workers, demographic change, competition with other big companies in the region and – because of the airport´s part in the safety chain – specific professional requirements make the search for appropriate personnel difficult. In order to retain employees and attract new ones, we offer a broad range of options, from attractive pay to flexible working time models or further training to many benefits as part of our company health management. Also in the future, we want to be one of the top employers in the region,` emphasizes managing director Rita Gindorf-Wagner.