Expanding Frankfurt Airport Under Conflict: Social Responsibility on the Growth Path

Tim Wiebusch


At airports, civil aviation meets its permanent companion: civil protest. Airports are under pressure to grow to meet air transport demand and stay competitive. In wide public perception, this interferes with their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability goals. This article examines the new business environment for airports and proceeds to investigate the past and present of regional expansion conflicts at Frankfurt Airport, Germany. A very violent history of confrontation in the region has changed stakeholder approach culture, but recent years have again seen the rise of a new, well-organized anti-growth protest movement which uses confrontational tactics. The author discusses the operator’s strategy to counter the substantial opposition to its expansion by a communication campaign to generate visible public support for the airport, and analyzes broader CSR efforts which may help to avoid potential conflict escalation. The article concludes with eight recommendations for socially responsible airports.

Keywords: Advocacy campaigns, airport expansion, air transport, community relations, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), environment, Frankfurt airport, Germany, growth, materiality assessment, noise, opposition, protest, stakeholder relations, sustainability, violence

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Technische Hochschule Wildau [FH] - Technical University of Applied Sciences, Wildau, Germany