PARIS (eTN) – Designated as one of the capital cities of the European Union (with Brussels and Luxemburg), Strasbourg in Eastern France has been endowed with all necessary infrastructures to sustain its prestigious function. The international airport is also a requisite, and Strasbourg has one of France’s finest facilities: the terminal has been renovated over the last three years and can handle up to 2.5 million passengers a year; the 2,700 meter runway is able to accommodate most aircraft; and the airport is one of the few in France to have a dedicated public transport with regional trains linking the city center in just 9 minutes.
Strasbourg International Airport has seen its traffic divided by two since the opening of the high-speed train link to Paris. After reaching a high of 2.2 million in 1999, traffic fell to 1.11 million in 2009. “Last year, total passengers decreased by another 4.4% to 1.06 million. However, there are some positive signs. We experienced ‘two years in one.’ The first half-year was terrible as we lost 50,000 passengers due to the volcanic ash cloud. It corresponds exactly to the passengers’ loss when compared to 2009. But we experienced a growth of 5% in passenger traffic, our first year of growth since the arrival of the high-speed train,” said Thomas Dubus, Strasbourg airport’s managing director.
The airport’s management is convinced that traffic will now bounce back in 2011 as Strasbourg expects more destinations and additional airlines. Could the recent air tax imposed in neighboring Germany on all flights help the airport’s recovery, asked eTurboNews. “I do not think so, even if it is a favorable element for us. Our passenger tax was 20 euros higher than the average passenger tax in Germany. It has now been reduced to 10 euro, and we could expect that we will be more attractive for some German airlines or tour operators. We will, in fact, welcome a big German tour operator with charter flights for the summer season. However, the most positive changes will come from our other marketing initatives such as tax reductions for new airlines or flights. We are launching even more attractive offers for airlines to come, and we expect some positive results this year and in 2012,” added Mr. Dubus.
Strasbourg Airport is currently run by the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but it will soon be turned into a private company with public participation. “With regional authorities entering into the shareholder’s structure for 15%, local authorities will look for targets and results,” said Mr. Dubus. According to the Airport’s Director, Starsbourg will look to diversify its portfolio. Air France remains Strasbourg’s largest airline, accounting for 90% of total passenger traffic. “We should attract another large carrier to help bring more attractive fares,” told the Airport Director. For Mr. Dubus, priority in the network development should be given to Central and Eastern Europe (including Germany), the Mediterranean Sea, and sun destinations, as well as London. “To be linked to the UK is essential,” acknowledged Mr. Dubus. All these initiatives should bear fruits in 2012 with the airport’s management predicting then a year of radical changes with many new airlines entering the market.