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Conversion of military airports to civil use – Germany’s experience is highly relevant for international airports

Lufthansa Consulting’s Associate Partner for the European market, Dr. Andreas Kraus, recently guided a delegation from Kauhava Airport, a former military airbase in Finland, to visit German benchmark locations and meet with local decision-makers. 

More than any other country worldwide, Germany was faced with the challenge of developing new civil perspectives for former air bases. After the end of the Cold War, the re-unified Germany had around 140 operational military airbases and airfields, 100 of which have since lost their military purpose. Germany’s experience of conversion created a highly valuable pool of expertise for airports worldwide that are facing the conversion challenge today. What factors determined whether a conversion strategy would succeed? How did private and state-owned entities cooperate? Which industrial location decision proved successful in the long term? Lufthansa Consulting provides professional support for airports faced with these challenges and helps them to define and achieve realistic future use targets. 

The delegation visited and reviewed the civil airport option based on the example of Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, as well as different non-aeronautical use options – such as a customer service center, vehicle testing track, solar park, industrial park – by visiting converted former U.S. and German Air Force bases. The program for Kauhava Airport was wrapped up with a strategy workshop on the lessons learned for the future civil use strategy of the Finnish Air Force’s former training base.