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Workers use a special vehicle to apply a primer on the northwest runway

Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

It is newly renovated, but apparently a danger for aircraft: the northwest runway. At Frankfurt Airport, the operator Fraport closed the runway again after only a few hours of operation.

The reason for this is indications from the airlines that damage to the aircraft tires had been observed after landing. The 2800-metre-long concrete runway had been cleaned of rubber abrasion in recent weeks and provided with a new type of anti-slip surface.

Delays are imminent

The industry portal »Aero.de « quotes from an internal Lufthansa memo: »There is massive tire abrasion during landing and an accumulation of tires that are no longer usable after landing.« The company had then informed the airport and air traffic control that their aircraft would no longer land on the northwest runway for safety reasons.

The northwest runway - only opened in 2011 by the then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) - is actually urgently needed for the upcoming summer travel, which should return to pre-Corona levels on individual days.

Germany's largest airport also has two additional runways and a runway that is only approved for take-offs. At the moment, there is a regulated operation without major disruptions, said a Fraport spokesman. However, there could be delays. A solution is being worked on at full speed.

After initial investigations, Fraport sent rollers onto the runway on Thursday to smooth out the rough surface. "Ultimately, this will simulate landings," said a company spokesman. Although the pavement was applied for the first time in Frankfurt, it has certainly been tested at other airports in Europe. The requirements of the civil aviation organization ICAO had all been complied with.

The train had been blocked by the traffic management of the airport. The railway was effectively closed, said the German air traffic control. It must now be determined whether the pavement could be rehabilitated or must be renewed, said a spokesman.

Air traffic control expects considerable delays if the runway remains closed. In the past two weeks, there have already been significant delays at Frankfurt Airport during the construction work. Around 120 flights were cancelled altogether.