Importance of the airport to the economy

Frankfurt Airport is Germany’s biggest workplace  

In many respects, Frankfurt Airport is an important business hub and prime location for the Rhine-Main region and beyond. It is a business magnet and a top location for science and education, and is also Germany’s largest workplace responsible for employing over 81,000 people.

Securing jobs

This is also borne out by a study conducted by the independent Swiss consultancy and research company INFRAS. According to its findings, Frankfurt Airport currently secures around 116,000 jobs at businesses and companies located on the airport grounds and at the associated supply and service provider companies. The consumer habits of the employees, airport operators and suppliers also create around 59,000 additional jobs. This means that roughly 175,000 people altogether benefit from the positive economic effects of aviation in Frankfurt.

The City of Frankfurt and Frankfurt Airport make a great combination. Here are some figures that are testament to this:

  • We invest €1 billion in Frankfurt Airport every year.
  • There are 35 million consumers living within a 200-kilometer radius.
  • Every year, Frankfurt is host to 50 trade fairs attracting around 3 million visitors from all over the world.
  • Frankfurt’s banking center is home to the headquarters of 300 banks including the European Central Bank.
  • There are 500 companies located at Frankfurt Airport itself.

Heavily export-driven companies and the German or European branches of major international and multinational firms frequently locate to areas that are close to the airport. Without the airport, for example, the vast majority of the pharmaceutical and chemical companies and branches at the Infraserv industrial park (formerly Farbwerke Hoechst AG) would not exist.

An attractive corporate location for the whole world

Other such examples include Korean automotive companies and Samsung, the world’s biggest chipmaker. It is thanks to them that Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region are home to Europe’s largest Korean community. These companies have created around 5,000 jobs in the region. The European Central Bank would not be located in Frankfurt either if not for the proximity of the intercontinental Frankfurt Airport. The airport is also the reason why the city is one of the most international locations in Germany with a multinational corporate landscape.

This is one of the reasons why international audit firm KPMG, for example, decided to move its European headquarters from London to Frankfurt Airport. The location decision did not revolve around cities such as “Paris, Munich or Berlin”, but rather airports such as “Amsterdam Airport or Frankfurt Airport”. Companies seeking to gain a foothold in foreign markets or to maintain and expand their presence in other countries require frequent and scheduled global connections in order to initiate and establish customer relationships or, for example, to source supplies of vital replacement parts.

Intermodality: the long-distance train station


Our objective with the House of Logistics and Mobility is to generate knowledge by linking science, business and society together.

Right next to the airport, offices and conference facilities, hotels, restaurants and a park with urban railway links to the city center are being built in Gateway Gardens. Since 2014, the site has also been home to the House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM). This is a platform for interdisciplinary project work, research and training that is also going to bundle logistics and mobility expertise at Germany’s most important intermodal transport hub. The former residential area for the U.S. military is being transformed into a new district of Frankfurt.

The HOLM’s objective is to generate knowledge by linking science, business and society together. The project is being developed by House of Logistics & Mobility GmbH, whose stakeholders include the federal state of Hesse (86.5 percent), the City of Frankfurt (12.5 percent) and the founding association (1 percent).

Initial research activities

The HOLM’s 19,800-square-meter building accommodates individual working groups dealing with aspects of logistics and mobility, such as social integration, safety and sustainability. At the same time, the HOLM is advertising for additional tenants. The spaces are let for business and science use at a ratio of 50/50. It is precisely this mix that makes the HOLM a special place wherescientists, students and business representatives will formulate problems and research issues, and work together to tackle and resolve them. The founding association of the HOLM is supposed to deliver the key impetus for this with its 210 members. Students who attend HOLM courses benefit from contact with major companies in the logistics sector and innovative start-ups.

Frankfurt Airport is an employment powerhouse, generating nearly 50,000 more jobs than in 1980. It is Germany’s biggest workplace responsible for over 81,000 jobs, making it an employment powerhouse for the Rhine-Main region. In 1980, there were 31,800 jobs in the region and today there are two and a half times that many.

Jobs at Frankfurt Airport are spread across around 500 different companies altogether. Deutsche Lufthansa AG accounts for nearly one in every two jobs (47 percent) and Fraport AG accounts for around a quarter (26 percent). The whole region benefits from the positive economic effects that the airport has. Besides the people employed directly at the airport, Frankfurt Airport also generates lots of additional jobs elsewhere.

Lots of pieces of the puzzle: not all jobs are created at major firms

The Squaire: Where the dental team has leased a plot for its spractice.

This dental practice not only treats several thousand patients in its eight treatment rooms, but also produces state-of-the-art dental equipment.

Frankfurt Airport is growing, but new jobs are not always just being created on a large scale – as Dr. Burkhard Mann’s dental practice can confirm. Dr. Mann’s two brothers already run a dental practice with 40 employees in Mainz. “We are full to capacity there so we are expanding into The Squaire,” explains Mann. Three new employees will initially be working at the practice. “But in a few years, we estimate that the number will be 50 to 60.”

A practice with display areas and training events

The dental team has leased a 527-square-meter plot in The Squaire’s Medical Center for its practice. This is enough space for eight treatment rooms. The practice will be in a position to treat its first patients by the middle to end of May. “We want to cater primarily to people who work at the airport and of course passengers as well,” says the dentist. The practice will also feature a display area showcasing the very latest dental equipment. “This will enable us to make the latest technical developments accessible to a wide range of dentists. We will also offer training events. For these reasons and others, Frankfurt Airport is the ideal location for our new practice, with quick and easy access for a great many prospective patients,” adds Mann.

A building that will positively impact job creation over the long term

The dentist’s patient base may well soon also include the nearly 5,000 people who currently work at The Squaire – and this number could grow to as many as 7,000 in the future. Germany’s longest office building will thereby make a significant contribution to positive job creation at the airport. The Frankfurt Airport location is attractive to many companies. The main tenants currently include audit and consultancy firm KPMG, Deutsche Lufthansa and the Hilton Group, who will have two hotels there.

A question of temperature: Working in the Perishable Center.
A question of temperature: Working in the Perishable Center.

A question of temperature: Working in the Perishable Center.

The Perishable Center Frankfurt handles 110,000 metric tons of goods every year – including fish, flowers and even medicines.  

Frankfurt is home to Germany’s largest freshwater fishing port. From salmon to lobster – the cooling experts at the Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF) handle around 20,000 metric tons of fish and seafood a year. They also handle tropical fruits, meat, flowers and medicines. “We ensure maximum freshness,” explains managing director Christoph Herchenhein, “for around 110,000 metric tons of products a year.”

Mangoes from South America, roses from Kenya and steaks from Australia all travel to Frankfurt

Sundays are the busiest days at the PCF: “This is when we receive goods that have to be fresh on the supermarket shelves after the weekend. On Mondays and Tuesdays we also see huge volumes of goods, some of which are shipped from Frankfurt to other European countries,” says Herchenhein. Most of the products have traveled long distances to get to Frankfurt. Mangoes from South America, roses from Kenya and steaks from Australia are shipped in cargo planes or in special cargo holds on passenger aircraft to Frankfurt – and from there they are often sent all over the world.  

Frankfurt is an ideal location, with just a few hundred meters separating the aircraft, the reloading point and the HGV. There are several aircraft parking positions right next to the PCF. The perishable goods travel by the fastest route from there to the 9,000-square-meter center – and vice-versa. The 120 or so employees who work there either load the goods directly onto HGVs, package the perishable goods into individual consignments or get them ready for temporary storage – in one of the 20 different cooling zones with temperatures ranging between minus 24 and plus 24 degrees Celsius.

Import controls and quality checks under one roof

“Our aim is to get the goods back out of our storage facility as quickly as possible because storage time increases the cost,” says Herchenhein. The center provides different handling services to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible. One of these services is customs import clearance. But the PCF does not need to employ additional specialist employees even for these official controls because the veterinary agencies, plant protection services and the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food employ inspectors in both buildings so that they can inspect the goods on the spot. “One of the things they are guarding against is that plants do not introduce any pathogens into other countries,” says the former managing director Herchenhein. If the inspectors find signs of this, in the worst case scenario the entire shipment will have to be destroyed.

The experts at the PCF also see themselves as the extended arm of the importers. “Their customers don’t see the goods until they arrive with them,” explains Herchenhein. “With certain products, we make recommendations on whether or not they are ready to be shipped. We determine, for example, whether the airfreighted mangoes are already ripe enough or whether it would be better to store them at our facility for another few days.”

Percentage of medicines is growing

Foodstuffs and flowers currently account for around 75 percent of goods at the PCF. “But the percentage of pharmaceuticals is growing increasingly because they are now being produced in lots of different countries,” says Herchenhein. “Handling of medicines in a temperature-controlled environment is based on sensitive regulations such as the EU directives on good manufacturing practice, which we have to comply with for quality assurance of the medicines,” explains Herchenhein.  

There are ten employees who are specially trained for this work and who take care of the special incoming goods inspections in the self-cooling containers in which the pharmaceuticals are usually transported. Their job involves checking the charging level of the batteries for the cooling systems and – where necessary – replenishing the dry ice.

Goods continue on their journeys in next to no time

There are also over 250 control sensors that check the ambient temperature of the self-cooling containers. However, most goods only have a short stay at the PCF. After an average of four to eight hours, the pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and flowers continue on their journeys by aircraft or HGV. This can amount to as many as 500 metric tons a day during peak times.