Salzburg Airport was able to generate a profit of 2022 million euros in the 2,2 financial year. The turnaround was achieved, because in 2021 you had to close with a minus of 25,6 million euros. However, not all the consequences of the pandemic have yet been overcome, according to Managing Director Bettina Ganghofer.
The manager expects that Austria's second largest airport will have around 1,5 million passengers this year. In the previous year there were 1,2 million passengers. According to Ganghofer, the signs are currently that things would continue to go uphill. In the DA-CH region in particular, however, the recovery in aviation would be much slower than in other EU countries.
New terminal is likely to be 20 million euros more expensive
Salzburg Airport will have to make some expensive but necessary investments by 2030. Furthermore, a contaminated site remediation, which will also not be exactly cheap, has to be carried out. Terminal 1, which is now showing its age, is to be rebuilt. Originally one planned with costs of approximately 80 million euro. Due to the general cost increases, it is now assumed that it will cost at least 100 million euros. The earliest possible start of construction is in 2026. The general plan is to be tendered and awarded this year. The construction work could then last six to seven years.
A lot needs to be renewed all around. For example, you need a new bulky luggage scanner and you also have to install the so-called “entry-exit system”, which is mandatory across the EU. This is intended to serve security, because it should enable third-country nationals to be better "monitored" at the EU's external borders.
Irrespective of the fact that Salzburg Airport made a profit last year, the state and city of Salzburg will not transfer any profit distribution. The horrendous losses that were written in 2020 and 2021 do not allow this and, in view of the expensive but necessary investments that have to be made, the airport needs as much equity as possible. Christian Stöckl, chairman of the supervisory board and former deputy governor, demands that the shareholders, i.e. the city and state of Salzburg, should share in the costs of the investments and should contribute appropriate funds.
Old environmental sins are costing the airport dearly
Financially, however, a completely different matter is likely to become expensive for Salzburg Airport. This was a long time ago, because in the past toxic additives in extinguishing agents simply seeped away and contaminated the local groundwater with per- and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds. As early as 1989, the carelessness in handling chemicals ended, but now you get the proverbial "bill" for the former environmental sin.
Bettina Ganghofer assumes that the costs for the remediation of contaminated sites will be around 30 million euros. After all, one benefits from the fact that the airport was formerly owned by the Republic of Austria, because the federal government bears at least 1989 percent of the costs for everything that can be proven to have got into the ground up to 80. Salzburg Airport wants to start cleaning the groundwater this summer. To put it simply, this works in such a way that it is pumped upwards and then cleaned with the help of special filters. This will not happen overnight, but current estimates suggest that the rehabilitation process will take around five years.
AR boss Stöckl wants domestic flights back to Vienna
The chairman of the supervisory board, Christian Stöckl, who previously also held the post of deputy governor of Salzburg for the ÖVP, expressed severe criticism of the federal government. He clearly calls for the comeback of domestic flights to Vienna-Schwechat, because the assumption by the Minister of Transport and AUA that passengers would then take the train to the AUA hub has proven to be a misconception. Most passengers would rather get in their cars and fly from Munich or fly with Lufthansa to Frankfurt and change trains there. The environment doesn't benefit at all and on top of that, the lack of domestic flights would damage the Austrian economy. In the meantime, Vienna's airport boss Günther Ofner has also joined the demand. In his function as aviation chairman within the WKO, he demands the comeback of flights Salzburg-Vienna. He also wants to see the airport reconnected to the Zurich hub.
As part of the controversial rescue package that the Austrian federal government sent to the Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines in 2020, the latter had to undertake that, among other things, domestic flights that were less than 300 kilometers away would have to be discontinued. In detail, there were still some clauses regarding the travel time on the rail route, so that a temporary exception was found for Graz. Linz, which has not been served from Vienna for a long time, and Salzburg were affected. The "alternative offer" under the name Air-Rail is apparently not accepted by the passengers as was the case with Austrian Airlines and Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens), who repeatedly stands out with an anti-aviation attitude, but likes to use "needs airlines" professionally. This is probably related to fears that the flight will be missed in the event of train delays. Many travelers should feel “safer” in their own car or when changing in Frankfurt.