With a symbolic hammer stroke, Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport, and Senator Frank Horch, Minister for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation in the city-state of Hamburg, broke the first piece of concrete on the main apron today, signalling the start of the thorough renewal of the apron. Between now and 2020, Hamburg Airport will be investing around 120 million euros in the comprehensive refurbishment. The work will be conducted in ten staggered phases so as to keep the impact on flight operations to a minimum. The first construction phase encompasses around 59,000 square meters in the southern apron and terminal area and is expected to be completed in July 2016.
Passengers will barely notice that Hamburg Airport is refurbishing the heart of its infrastructure over the coming years. The construction plan, with ten staggered phases, ensures that flight operations can continue with only minor restrictions. The engineers and air traffic experts are currently dealing with a major task on Apron 1: the work to be carried out on the primary apron represents the comprehensive renewal of a central airport facility, encompassing as it does the renewal of all pipes, cables, technical equipment, and the surface itself.
More than six million aircraft have passed over the apron
The investment is necessary because the concrete surfaces are now between 40 and 60 years old, and their usability will come to an end in the foreseeable future. The existing apron has had its load to bear. Over the past five decades, more than six million aircraft have taxied across its surface, with a total weight of over 290 million tonnes.
“The airport’s apron is a central infrastructure component at Hamburg Airport. This is where aircraft taxi, where they are refuelled and loaded, and where passengers board. These lanes and routes are traversed by fuel tankers, buses, leader vehicles, tow trucks, baggage trailers, and mobile staircases. Today we are giving the starting signal for the comprehensive refurbishment of the facility, so that we can continue to guarantee safe, environmentally responsible and reliable air traffic operations at Hamburg Airport,” said Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport, about the commencement of construction work.
Senator Frank Horch emphasized, “The refurbishment of the primary apron will equip the airport to face the coming decades. The many construction measures will ensure improved logistics and increased efficiency – and this will benefit passengers, airlines, local residents, and the environment. This is a good investment in the future of our metropolitan region.”
New traffic concept: Improvements for passengers and the environment
In the course of the renewal of the surface, the apron layout will be revised to fulfil current EASA and ICAO standards, with new lane alignment and markings, including taxiways and aircraft parking positions. Moreover, Hamburg Airport is implementing a new traffic concept which will, amongst other things, improve routing. Surface operations will thus be quicker and more flexible. Until now, Hamburg Airport’s apron has had a one-way system: guided by Apron Control, aircraft taxi on three different lanes to their parking position or to the runway. The new traffic system envisages a partial bidirectional usage of the lanes in the future.
One effect of this improved usage of space will be to shorten the turnaround times for aircraft as they need less time to taxi to the handling positions. This is good for the environment as it results in less engine noise and lower levels of CO2 emissions. The apron will also be fitted with the modern “Follow the Greens” guidance system, where rows of green lights inserted into the surface guide pilots to take-off or to the allocated parking position. The technical facilities underneath the apron surface will also be completely modernized. This includes, amongst other things, the replacement of stormwater drainage pipes over a length of 3.6 kilometers. The modern pipes will ensure that there is no mixing of stormwater with groundwater.
Early arrival at the airport recommended
“Carrying out all of this construction work during ongoing operations is a great challenge for our entire team. It is especially important for us, that everything continues as normal for passengers,” emphasizes Michael Eggenschwiler. The standard advice for all passengers to reach the airport at least two hours before departure applies especially during the construction work. To some extent check-in and gates will be closing a little earlier than normal to ensure that, despite the longer taxiing routes during airside construction work, flight operations continue on schedule. Passengers are requested to pay attention to information issued by the relevant airline before departure.