Munich Airport has been cleared by the regional Bavarian government to build a third, parallel runway to the northeast of the current perimeter.

Like the existing runways, it will be 4000m (13,100ft) long and 60m wide. It will be located 1,180m north of the current runway 08L/26R, with its thresholds displaced 2,100m to the east.

The expansion is to increase the maximum number of aircraft movements per hour from 90 to 120.

The authorities considered 31 different proposals for the runway location as well as not building a new runway and transferring some of the traffic to other airports. In the end, however, the government granted the planning permission which the airport sought in 2007, even though the original traffic growth projections were higher than more recent figures.

Munich Airport predicted in 2007, before the economic downturn, that it would require capacity for 607,000 takeoffs and landings in 2020. New forecasts show, however, a demand for 536,000 aircraft movements by the end of the decade. Last year, the airport registered approximately 390,000 movements.

If the new runway is not built, the government expects traffic to reach 473,000 movements in 2020.

Airport chief executive Michael Kerkloh said that the approval for the third runway was the most important long-term decision since operations were moved from Munich's old airport in Riem to the new hub near Freising in 1992.

While the number of aircraft movements has doubled since then, passenger volume has tripled to around 35 million in 2010, the airport operator added.

The new runway will not be used between 22:00 and 06:00 except in case of emergency operations or if one of the existing runways is closed.

The airport has allocated €100 million ($145 million) for noise-related initiatives, including the potential purchase of up to 100 private properties at 2007 market conditions.

Part of the expansion will be a new apron with 78 aircraft parking positions east of the current terminal complex. Further building projects include a third fire station, general aviation facilities, a new helicopter pad and snow dumping areas.

While construction works could legally begin straight away, the airport wants to wait until the courts have decided about expected appeals against the planning permission.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news