By on August 13, 2010

Remember jetgate? Imagine what congressional roasters would have said if they would have found out that their wards of the state not only own their own airline, but a sizable share of an airport? Unthinkable. In Germany, nobody bats an eye.

Volkswagen has its private airline, called “Volkswagen Air Service.” When its executive jets became too small for the heavy brass, the VW-owned airline acquired an Airbus A 319. They are all stationed at the Braunschweig airport. Volkswagen is the biggest customer there. There is daily service to Prague and to Ingolstadt, but if you want a ticket, you must work at Volkswagen.  The runway of that airport always was a bit short, especially for their Airbus. Therefore, a longer runway was planned. Volkswagen made an investment in “their “ airport, received 35.6 percent of the shares, along with the honors that the airport was renamed “Braunschweig- Wolfsburg.” The natives mounted the usual protests against the longer runway, but to no avail: A few hundred acres of forests were bulldozed in January. On July 27, the longer runway was finally finished.

Having made their “contribution to provide for the development of the airport,” and with a runway for a fully tanked Airbus with a full load of brass, Volkswagen will now exit the airport business and sell their 35.6 percent share. It will be bought by the company that runs the Braunschweig-Wolfsburg Airport, says Automobilwoche [sub]. Volkswagen promises that they will remain the prime customer of the airport and will provide its continuous contributions to its well-being.

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8 Comments on “Jetgate, German Style: VW Gets Out of The Airport Business...”

  • avatar
    cole carrera

    That’s a lot of plane for daily trips and probably not a lot of people?

  • avatar

    The GM “air service” had to be liquidated when the DC boys took over – but there was no airport – just hangars. Chrysler got cleansed of its “air service” pretty much when Diamler left town.
    I am still amused at the logic of making the CEO of a large company use a lot of his extra time using “public” transportation – first class of course – use $3000 worth of time for a $500 trip. Or maybe Rick Wagoner could drive from Detroit to Washington. All vestiges of common sense went out the window during the purge.
    Of course, the new bosses of GM kept their executive jets (BHO-the worlds’ biggest business jet (Air Force One) , Pelosi-transcontinental jet (a 767?) ). And there are still plenty of “airports” – ordinary folks call them Air Force bases – they’re still around for the bosses to use.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    So, the bottom line is that Volkswagen paid to have a local airport expanded to meet its company needs. Hardly noteworthy.

    The big hubbub about executives flying around on corporate jets was in the context of them doing so while also asking the government to step in with cash to keep the corporate lights on. Hardly the same situation here.

  • avatar

    Bertel, I enjoy your articles, but the logic of this one eludes me. VW is by many measures the most successful automobile manufacturer in the world. If I were a shareholder I’d be outraged if their executives were wasting their time and risking their lives in the mess we call the world’s airline system today. VW has paid directly or indirectly for all the development in and around Wolfsburg – why not the airport? Are you suggesting their executives should schlepp an hour to Hannover, board a short-haul flight to a gateway, then cool their heels in Amsterdam or London or Frankfurt, every time they want to go somewhere? Regarding GM divesting its planes, that was pure politics and show. Had Wagoner had any balls, he would have reminded the members of that Star Chamber how many times each one of them had begged to hitch a ride. He wouldn’t be any worse off today.

    • 0 avatar

      Having had both the dubious honor to schlepp many an hour (sometimes two if the Autobahn is a parking lot) to Hannover, and the real honor (free flight…) to enjoy the rather relaxed check-in routine in Braunschweig (“Tut-tut, Mr. XXXXX, cutting it a big short again? We have take-off clearance. Let’s buckle-up while I take care of your luggage.”), I am all for VW maintaining their private air force.

      Once, during times of austerity, it was decided to scrap a central dealer meeting. To save the costs for flights and lodging, 20 regional meetings were had instead. That went down in the annals as the “Helicopter Tour.” Once the meetings were scheduled and announced, the logistical challenges were so great that brass, brass band, stage equipment and support personnel had to be helicoptered from venue to venue because there was so little time.

  • avatar

    I just love those insights you give B.S. any return date for the autobiography of B.S series?

  • avatar

    You would think they would stick a VW badge somewhere on their planes. unless the plane in the video is not the VAS plane…

  • avatar

    ll vestiges of common sense went out the window during the purge. To save the costs for flights and lodging, 20 regional meetings were had instead.
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