The sale of an airport in the Hunsrück to two buyers gets politicians involved. The countries of Russia, Ukraine and the USA also play a role here. Does a federal ministry give the green or red light?
The planned sale of a former US military airport in the Hunsrück to a Russian investor makes waves as far as Berlin in times of war. Shortly before the creditors’ meeting for the insolvent Hahn Airport on February 7th, the tension mounts as to which hands it will eventually end up in. The federal government could also have a say. Memories of the dispute over a Chinese minority stake in a terminal in the port of Hamburg are awakened.
According to information from the German Press Agency, the NR Holding of the Nürburgring around the Russian Viktor Charitonin and the Mainz-based Richter group of companies have each signed a purchase contract for Hahn Airport independently of one another. Both have already paid the purchase price. However, NR Holding paid more so that it can be awarded the contract – unless the federal government objects in accordance with the Foreign Trade Act.
The Federal Ministry of Economics is keeping a low profile for the time being. A ministry spokesman said on Monday he could not confirm or deny that there was an investment review process. It is a difficult question to be examined as to whether the airport is part of the critical infrastructure. Charitonin is not on any EU sanctions list for Russia, which is waging a war of aggression against Ukraine.
Two sales contracts are not uncommon
A bankruptcy expert, who declined to be named, says the trustee’s two-pronged process involving two buyers, contracts and payments is “not exceptional.” “Transaction security” is important in the secret bidding process. If the interested party with the higher bid fails, for example for political reasons, “you still have the other bidder at hand”.
According to their own words, the Richter group of companies knew nothing about the signing of the contract for the competition for Charitonin. Originally, Frankfurt-based Swift Conjoy GmbH made the race at Hahn with a top bid – but never paid. The state of Hesse once got involved with a minority stake in the airport.
The company that owns the world-famous, almost 100-year-old race track in the Eifel is sparse. After all, she confirmed the signing of the purchase contract. According to dpa information, she transferred around 20 million euros. The operating company of the Nürburgring points to several successful economic pillars of motorsport and so-called tourist trips by hobby racers to company events and the legendary Rock am Ring music festival – this year from June 2nd to 4th.
According to the family company, it takes care of new businesses and apartments on former commercial and military sites, for example on the former property of a sparkling wine factory in Mainz, a beverage company in nearby Nieder-Olm, a cigar factory near Gießen and a barracks in Nierstein am Rhein. One of their Mainz buyers and tenants is the corona vaccine manufacturer Biontech. The head of the Richter Group, Wolfram Richter, says he wants to take over management and staff at Hahn Airport, “stabilize flight operations” and settle other businesses.
Citizens’ initiative hopes for the end of US flights
Hahn works council chief Thomas Dillmann says: “The Nürburgring works well.” He also heard that the investor Charitonin “should be fair and reliable”. He also learned positive things about the Richter Group. For the works council, it is important that Hahn Airport is “finally managed properly” by an owner. Under the insolvency administrator Jan Markus Plathner, the passenger business has already picked up again.
The citizens’ initiative against the Hahn night airport refers to many stopovers by logistics airlines with US soldiers and weapons at Hunsrück Airport. Should Charitonin get the rooster with his rare night-flying permit, he would not be able to convey that US support to his homeland. But North America could also be irritated. The citizens’ initiative therefore hopes, in its own words, that these US flights will come to an end and that there will be less aircraft noise.