Leaves of grass sprout from the cracks in the concrete runway. No more aircraft taxiing to the runway here. "The runway has already been shut down for two or three years," says elmar kleinert, head of bremen airport since july 2018. The gutter next to the runway is made of red bricks. "They're probably still from the 1940s," kleinert estimates. In 1949, bremen had repaired the war damage, on 1. April 1949, the first civilian aircraft landed at the airport after the end of the war.
Break at position 07
Taxiway A has also had to be closed several times and makeshift repairs carried out. Aircraft then jam on the taxiways, which are still open, or have to maneuver more frequently.
On the apron, at parking position 07, the concrete ceiling has broken up. Individual chunks lying around. What has happened? When it rains, water seeps through the joints between the concrete slabs or through the cracks in the older slabs, and the earth underneath slides off.
This taxiway to the runway has been closed for years. Other routes are all the more congested.
Or it freezes, and the concrete ceiling cracks open. "In the last 15, 20 years, little has been invested in the airport," criticizes kleinert. "People have been living off the substance." 07 is not an isolated case.
Around ten million euros invested in 2019
That makes renovation all the more urgent. Even the smallest stones on the runways endanger the planes. The stones are sucked in by the turbines and destroy them. The suction force is so great that even people are caught if they get too close to the running turbine.
Kleinert is spending around ten million euros on the renovation this year alone, and he expects a "higher single-digit million euro amount" next year. Already in the 2018 annual report, which was presented in march 2019, kleinert pointed out that the airport would probably need additional external financing for "investment and maintenance measures from fiscal year 2019 onwards".
A worker compacts the joints between the concrete slabs. Parts of the apron have to be closed again and again.
Loan from the city
After the may elections, the city of bremen, the airport's sole shareholder, approved a loan of 12.6 million euros with a term of three years. The airport wants to pay back the first installment of 4.2 million euros as early as december. Another 4.2 million then in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
In return, the hanseatic city will retroactively come to 1. January 2019 for the costs of the airport fire department on: about 4.5 million euros annually. This assurance is valid indefinitely.
After all, it's not just the slopes that need to be rehabilitated. The light poles on the passenger bridges need to be renewed. The lighting on the western railway and the eastern railway is also to be modernized. Kleinert wants to replace old signal lights with LED lights. This reduces energy consumption there by 90 percent.
Operations at the airport should not be jeopardized
As early as these weeks, he will replace the system that x-rays passengers' luggage. The new devices detect even more accurately what is in bags and suitcases. "Due to legal requirements, we have to renew," says kleinert, referring not only to the X-ray system. "Otherwise we endanger the operation."
In four to five years, kleinert wants to have remedied most of the deficiencies. If the loan from the city is not sufficient, he will probably have to think about bank loans. In december, the supervisory board will approve the business plan for the coming year.