Munich Airport’s Third Runway and Stakeholder Communications

Franziska Ruh


Airports create many benefits for their regions, but they also put a great burden on residents and communities in the near vicinity. The environmental impact is considerable. Naturally, growth and expansion plans for airports quickly generate controversy and resistance. Munich Airport (MUC), Germany’s second-largest airport after Frankfurt, has long planned to construct a third 4 km runway to increase capacity and ensure MUC’s position in a fiercely competitive aviation market. A 2012 citizen referendum has stopped these plans. This article examines the needs, instruments, limits and potentials of airport communications with its key stakeholders, using the example of MUC, in the context of the runway project. It finds that innovative means opened up important channels for communication and citizen participation, but partly failed because of the inherent political conflicts between the airport and neighboring communities which prevented consensus. Efforts of information and dialog are not sufficient to win public support. More active mobilization of citizen, business and media support is necessary to put voiceful opposition at bay.


Keywords: Airport expansion, air transport, infrastructure, Germany, Munich, community advisory council, NIMBY, noise, project management, protest, public acceptance, stakeholder communications, stakeholder management

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