Despite increased costs: deficit continues to fall

Airport Advisory Board approves economic plan 2023 | Optimistic approach due to good earnings situation

Press release 21.12.22:

Hof - Traditionally, the last meeting of the airport advisory board focused on the adoption of the business plan for the coming year. Managing Director Ralf Kaußler was able to plan a more optimistic approach due to the current economic situation despite increased operating costs.

Revenues in 2023 are estimated at a total of €1.12 million due to the continued increase of approximately 5% in air traffic at Hof-Plauen Airport in 2022. These revenues consist primarily of the profit from fuel sales, income from rentals of facilities and hangars, including to BMW and Fleetair International Airlines. These two customers alone will enable the airport to earn around 500,000 euros a year. Additional revenue from the reimbursement of costs by the German Federal Office for Air Traffic Control, amounting to around 200,000 euros, also contributes to a solid revenue side and relieves the cost budget for air traffic control at the airport. "We are pleased that these reimbursement payments are flowing and that our cost burden is being relieved," said airport CEO Ralf Kaußler. However, since these cost reimbursements are not fully sufficient, the airport collects so-called approach charges for the air traffic control service for approaching aircraft on behalf of the air traffic control provider Austrocontrol Germany GmbH. After a settlement of the costs and the reimbursements made between all parties involved, the airport can expect additional revenue here as well.

On the expenditure side, the business plan closes with a total budget of 1.6 million euros. Faced with new hires due to upcoming employee retirements and upcoming collective bargaining in the public sector, the figure for personnel costs rises to 637,000 euros. This means that personnel costs once again represent the largest expense item. The vehicle fleet has also seen an increase in costs. Here, the procurement costs for operating materials and spare parts have risen enormously. An additional leased Unimog was also put into service in order to be able to work effectively in winter service. "The runway is our capital - even in winter," says Kaußler.

In addition, the maintenance costs of the buildings and facilities are also increasing as a result of higher energy prices. Absolutely necessary investments, such as roof renovations on hangars and repairs to the runway lighting system, will also have to be carried out in 2023 and will have a negative impact on the expenditure side.

"Revenues from rising air traffic figures can currently absorb the increased energy costs in many respects. Nevertheless, costs are also rising for us. We tend to plan conservatively here and are pleased should more revenue be generated and yet at the same time lower expenses are required due to falling prices," explains Kaußler.

However, the good revenue situation means that the cost increases can be largely absorbed, which is why the planned deficit of -480,500 euros is again 76,300 euros lower than in 2022. The necessary equity capital increases to cover the deficit are borne by the city and district of Hof in proportion to their shares in Flughafen-GmbH.

"We are pleased to be able to reduce the planned deficit once again - despite conservative planning and despite the increased cost side," says a pleased Managing Director Kaußler. "We are always working toward the goal of not needing to increase equity in the near future." That would be positive news for the treasurers of the city and district of Hof, who have to provide the funds. "Due to the budgetary situation of our shareholders, we have, of course, put all items to the test again and coordinated the plan accordingly. The treasurers are pleased that once again less money has to be made available!", says Kaußler.

In addition to economically calculated fuel prices, a good external image as an airport for general aviation and the business sector should also help to achieve the "black zero" goal. "In the coming year, we will try to attract new customers at special aviation trade fairs and to further promote ourselves as a commercial airport for the business sector," explains Kaußler.

The airport has to invest in many areas. In the coming year, construction of the required vehicle parking hall is finally to begin. The planning and approval phase has taken around 1.5 years. Since the remaining Plan B funds can be applied for here, own funds of around 400,000 euros can be expected.

The necessary renovation of hangar roofs will also cost 280,000 euros. "The aim here is to prepare the roofs for a PV system, which can then supply us with electricity," says the airport's managing director.

In addition, retrofits of technical equipment in the tower and a study on the connection to a remote tower center are being examined. "The remote tower concept is forward-looking and can make cost efficiency easier for us in many respects, as well as staff deployment. We want to look at what we would have to do to connect," Kaußler explains. "However, these additional costs are reimbursable and will be reported accordingly in the reimbursement of air traffic control costs."

The advisory board and management agree that the direction taken in operations is the right one. This is also shown by the traffic and sales figures for the current year. As of November, traffic increased by 5%, while sales almost doubled in the same period. According to Managing Director Kaußler, the reasons for this are quite simple: "Fleetair International, as well as other business airlines, fly to and land with us more often with heavier aircraft." This is immediately noticeable in the turnover.

A company's active factory traffic, with up to 8 flights a week to destinations all over Europe, also contributes to sales, he says. "Here, they often fill up in Hof so that they have a time advantage at their destination and do not have to refuel there first.

It is already apparent that the recently signed contract with Fleetair International in particular will result in more traffic: The airline is expected to park 8 of the fleet's 10 aircraft in Hof over Christmas and New Year as part of its base operations.

Advisory board chairwoman and mayor Eva Döhla thanked the managing director for his work and planning for the coming year. "We congratulate you on your recent negotiation results and see that our airport continues to develop positively".

The advisory board also unanimously agreed with the praise and thanked Ralf Kaußler for the trusting and good cooperation. "You inform us well and in detail. We can clearly see that the effort you and your team put in is worthwhile," said Hilmar Bogler (CSU) to Ralf Kaußler. He in turn thanked shareholders and advisory board members for the good cooperation and wished everyone a blessed Christmas and a happy new year in 2023.