Despite shortcomings in their budget, Groningen Airport Eelde received a preliminary vote of confidence from its shareholders last week on its plans to cover its budget deficit.
According to RTV Noord, the airport is still 400,000 euros short of covering its finances for 2019, and a definitive budget is set to be approved in January. The airport is reportedly planning to cover the deficit by raising ticket prices and parking fees, using the fire department on site more “efficiently”, and making cut backs to facility maintenance, marketing and cleaning.
Groningen Airport Eelde director Marco van de Kreek told Dagblad van het Noorden that the airport would be charging a couple of euros extra in landing and departures, as well as raising parking lot prices.
Copenhagen and Munich
Earlier this month, Estonia-based airline Nordica announced they would no longer service flights between Groningen and Copenhagen and Munich. With the announcement of the end of the Copenhagen and Munich flights, the province of Groningen expressed doubts about the long term plan to provide 46 million euros, including 10 million euros from a route development fund, for the airport of the next decade because of the lack of hub service. The airport directors were able to bring their deficit down from 770,000 to 360,000 euros.
Several other destinations were cancelled in 2017: the Greek island of Kos, Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and Gdansk in Poland. In 2017, the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe agreed to invest 13.8 million each in the airport, but the city of Groningen declined to pay its share of 12 million euros. The airport’s profits have lagged further behind than expected, due in part to unrealistically high passenger number projections.
The KLM Flight Academy at Eelde will be expanding in the coming years: staff and planes from the Martinair flight school in Lelystad will be relocating to Groningen Airport Eelde within the next two years. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that the KLM flight school at Eelde is planning to buy six new training planes, bringing the total number of aircraft stationed at the airport to 12. All 160 students of the Lelystad flight school will do the entirety of their training at Eelde. Twelve staff members and five training planes will be relocated from Lelystad to Drenthe.
Although commercial flights from Eelde have been undergoing upheaval of late, the future of the KLM flight school is looking more stable. Two years ago, pilots who completed the programme reportedly struggled to find work, the school was not taking on any new students and several staff members were let go. A new financial arrangement for flight school has made it more attractive for students to enrol, and KLM is in serious need of more commercial pilots.