Eindhoven Airport Closure: Loss or Profit for the Region?

Eindhoven Airport Closure: Loss or Profit for the Region?
CoolmenNL, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Eindhoven Airport is set to be closed in 2027 to renew its runway, and it’s not a small project either.

The runway is expected to be closed for 5 months, and because Eindhoven only has 1 runway, the entire airport will also be closed.  

Closure of Eindhoven Airport…

Eindhoven Airport Closure: Loss or Profit for the Region?
Eindhoven Airport, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons

Eindhoven Airport, which is jointly operated by the civilian branch (which is part of the Schiphol Group) and the MoD (Ministry of Defense), has put out its plan to renovate its existing runway, equipping it with a Cat III ILS system.

This allows the pilots to land their plane in foggy weather condition, which is a huge upgrade from its already existing Cat I ILS system, which only allowed guidance to the airport with more than 550 meters of visibility.

The upgrade will allow pilots to have a much lower limitation when it comes to visibility, allowing the pilots to have up to 75 meters of visibility.  

The ILS upgrade will allow for much less disturbance to the already fog-prone airport, making traveling to and from the airport a much more pleasant experience. 

The renovation will also include upgraded lighting, a new drainage system for rainy weather, and new cabling for the airport.

Eindhoven Airport, under coordination with the MoD, also wants to add new braking systems for the F-35 Lightning II, which will smoothen flight operations.

The airport also wants to add another taxi path to the east side of the airport, improving airport safety operations as aircraft won’t have to cross the runway before or after landing, also improving on-time departures. 

The entire operation is expected to last 5 months, or 22 weeks, between February and June.

Since the airport has only one runway at its disposal, it won’t have any flight movements during the renovation period.

This means that about 17,000 flights will have to be diverted to neighboring airports such as Rotterdam, Maastricht, or Groningen.  

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Diversion Options…

Eindhoven Airport Closure: Loss or Profit for the Region?
Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although nothing is certain yet who is going to take over what and how, many possibilities are being looked at, such as the aforementioned airports of Rotterdam, Maastricht, and Groningen.

Those 3 airports are, after Schiphol and Eindhoven, the 3 biggest leisure origin airports. 

Rotterdam also has a lot of similar leisure flights from Transavia, while Groningen currently serves on a seasonal basis leisure flights with Corendon and currently a charter flight to northern Europe.

Maastricht on the other hand serves mostly freighter flights, but also a bit of leisure flights, with Ryanair having 2 year-round destinations while Corendon also has some seasonal flights. 

Despite the availability of these alternative airports, many still (unsurprisingly) are complaining about the relocation of their flights.

One silver lining is that they have planned it into the near future, giving everyone time to process it, explore alternative airports, and decide on the best course of action.  

Unthinkable alternatives… 

Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography from Netherlands, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are, however, a couple of other alternatives which don’t seem so obvious at first hand. One of those airports is Woensdrecht Air Force Base. Woensdrecht, like Eindhoven, is MoD-owned.

The one main difference between the 2 airports is that Woensdrecht does not have any aircraft permanently based on the field, although many PC-7 trainer flights happen at this airport.  

This airport is also the main base of Aviolanda, which uses the former terrain of GKN Fokker to conduct maintenance on many aircraft.

Also present is the maintenance of the engines of the Dutch Air Force’s F-35 Lightnings and the Italian Aeronautica Militare.

The location will also (partially) build F-35s for the Dutch Air Force like they used to do for the F-16s. 

This much infrastructure on-premise means that there is a theoretical head start for the airbase to be turned into a temporal commercial airfield, using tents as terminals.

One of the main concerns is that the usage of the airport for commercial flights will limit the amount of nitrogen the airport will release, allowing for less housing to be built, but a solution has to be made. 

Another advantage of using the airport as a commercial airport is that it can stimulate youths to come to the area to get in touch with their personal aviation development.

If the 5 months of temporal flight takeover is a success, the airport could potentially start to build a permanent terminal for some commercial activity too, stimulating the surrounding area’s economic success, as there is much to do in the southern part of The Netherlands, though everything has to be coordinated with the MoD, as they are the owner of the airport. 

Another useful candidate would be Lelystad Airport. Lelystad had been quite the biggest controversy in not only the Dutch parliament but also the Dutch society as the government had spent millions to renovate and improve the airport’s facilities, which included a brand new terminal, an expanded runway, and an improved air traffic control tower, but the government has decided not to continue with the project, citing environmental fears as their main reason.  

With the recent elections having been held a few months ago, a new push could continue the airport’s prosperity to finally bloom and commence commercial operations, and hopefully just in time for Eindhoven Airport’s runway closure.

At the same time, the airport could take over a handful of leisure flights from Schiphol Airport, giving Schiphol a lot more breathing room to accept new or more frequent routes while still being below the limit set by the government. 

If all goes well, the addition of Woensdrecht Airport and Lelystad Airport could spark some new, unfounded interest in both airports, sparking a new boom of flights to those regions, but all shall be seen shortly. 

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By Arash Abed 8 Min Read
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