The investment requirement at Klagenfurt Airport should not be 15 million euros, but 28 million euros. This is what the former majority owner Lilihill claims and accuses the politicians of having known about this need “to everyone involved and therefore also to K-BV board member Payer for more than three years now”.
Even before the sale of the majority to Lilihill, Klagenfurt Airport was not in a good position. The line offer consisted of connections to Vienna and Cologne/Bonn. There were also only a few charter flights. Only what was absolutely necessary was invested. The managements, which literally put their hands on the door handle, also suffered from the subsidy policy of the former Haider state government, because many airlines quickly made it clear: You will only fly to Klagenfurt if there are financial subsidies.
Many projects were presented under Lilihill's majority ownership, but not much was implemented. The time was also of an ongoing dispute between SPÖ and ÖVP, which was reflected in mutual lawsuits between K-BV and Lilihill. The Social Democrats have long refused to exercise the call option and only changed their mind when the wages and salaries of airport employees could not be paid on time repeatedly.
In the past week, those responsible for politics and the new airport manager Wildt and KBV boss Payer presented the results of their checkout. Among other things, it came out that there was a gaping hole of 6,6 million euros in the airport's finances and that around 2025 million euros would have to be invested in the infrastructure by 15. In this context, Lilihill accuses that the investment requirement would be 28 million euros and that the KBV boss, among other things, should have known about it for three years.
Lilihill launches a verbal counterattack
"The medium-term planning of KFBG under the majority owner Lilihill Group therefore also provided for the use of non-operational areas in the form of building rights for a specific purpose and thus to finance the urgently needed investments in the airport. Payer has successfully prevented these sensible and constructive measures for years, directly or indirectly. The current change of heart shows that the intentional blockade to damage Klagenfurt Airport only served to hinder Lilihill Group and to discredit it in the media and publicly," said the former majority owner in a public reaction.
But Lilihill's allegations go much further. For example, it is assumed that politicians are now marketing concepts that they have worked out themselves as new ideas for saving Klagenfurt Airport. As an example, the solar runway suggested by Managing Director Maximilian Wildt, which could be set up next to the runway, is mentioned. The former majority owner presented this three years ago as part of the Aviation City that was planned but never implemented.
The list of accusations is even longer: "The cash register collapse that has now taken place causes astonishment. In his role as a shareholder, Payer has known all the figures in detail for five years, as well as the last joint medium-term planning from April and June 2023. A package of measures on which the planning is based was also presented to the companies in April and June 2023. The plans were absolutely serious and well thought out. If these measures are not to be implemented or are to be implemented differently, this will of course also affect the planned results and the financing requirements. The downward revision of passenger numbers and the budget is also due to the successful prevention of the home base carrier Liliair by the KB-V. The fact alone that a daily connection to Frankfurt was prevented means 50.000 passengers and 1,7 million euros fewer. Ultimately, Mr. Payer is also responsible for that”.
A long-standing legal dispute is looming
Lilihill then scatters Rosen himself again, claiming that it would have been a great success that Ryanair flies from Klagenfurt again. The increased number of passengers could only be attributed to the connections of this carrier.
In the public statement, Lilihill does not respond to allegations made by those responsible in politics regarding allegedly high consulting and marketing costs. It is imminent that the airport and/or the public sector could file a lawsuit. This could also be in response to the fact that Lilihill is taking the call option to court. The aim of the lawsuit is to establish that the airport is still the majority owner. The K-BV became the document already served by the competent court. In terms of content, their boss Martin Payer does not want to comment on this yet.