Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fraport ready to take over?

As the new season is almost here, questions keep coming regarding the status of Rhodes airport management concession to Fraport.

Lately we are reading that Fraport is arranging all final and necessary tasks such as signing contracts with the greek police as well the fire and health departments in order to secure public services needed. Though an exact date has not been announced, its widely circulated that Fraport will take over officially in early April, just before greek easter.

So far, the Germans didn't communicate any of their plans for Rhodes airport besides some general comments concerning all airports (such as airports' cleanliness, maintenance etc.). Today, at last, they announced some of their plans for all airports; Rhodes Diagoras airport will get some much needed upgrades but there are still questions.

Actions defined as immediate from Fraport include:
- General clean-up
- Improving lighting, marking of airside areas
- Upgrading sanitary facilities
- Enhancing services and offering new free Internet connection (WiFi)
- Implementing works to improve fire safety in all the areas of the airports

Then, we have enhancement changes that will be implemented under Fraport Greece’s investment plan until 2021
• Remodeling the current terminal
• Reorganizing the airport apron area
• New fire station
• 13 percent increase in the number of check-in counters (from 40 to 45)
• 13 percent increase in the number of departure gates (from 16 to 18)
• 71 percent in the number of security-check lanes (from 7 to 12)
• 25 percent increase in the number of baggage reclaim belts (from 4 to 5)
Fraport exterior rendering after the completion of the works (front)

Fraport exterior rendering after the completion of the works (apron)

Needless to say all of the above listed are much needed and should be intoduced asap but we still have some questions that hopefully in time will get answered.
- Firstly, its unclear what will happen in the public outdoor space just in front of the terminals. Current condition is disappointing with a total mess present for most of the summer months. We hope Fraport can come up with a more functioning plan that will improve conditions for visitors and workers.
- Then, we are still unaware of the fate of apron expansion which will allow for more aircraft parking space. The government purchased years ago all available land adjacent to the northeast side but failed to demolish existing buildings and incoroporate land to airport premises. It remains unknown if and when this expansion will take place as well who's paying for it.
- Moreover, its still unknown what their business plan for increasing traffic is. Will they be directly involved offering incentives to airlines and tour operators especially for lenghtening the season? Or they will pass this task to government and local authorities? Or maybe a combination of both?
- Finally, we need some clarifications on their funds allocation. Will Rhodes airport be their top priority or it will end up as a milkcow funding other airports improvements?

Anyway, we really hope this new era for Rhodes airport will be positive and that in time it will be able to provide high standards services. We don't expect Fraport to fix everything overnight but we hope they will take it seriously and help Rhodes improve. The private sector needs to lead the way so as to force both local and central authorities to follow...