FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - Politicians and business representatives have paid tribute to the economic and social importance of Frankfurt Airport. The airport does not really fit in with the size of the city and is therefore of outstanding economic importance for the region, said Hesse's former Minister President Roland Koch (CDU) on Thursday at a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the operating company Fraport. He said he was proud to have managed the expansion of the airport since 2000, even though painful decisions had to be made in a democracy, which placed a heavy burden on individual citizens.

The fourth runway of Germany's largest airport was completed in 2011 and the third passenger terminal, which was also planned at the time, is now due to open in 2026, as Fraport CEO Stefan Schulte reiterated. "We definitely wanted the expansion," said Koch, pointing out that there had never been a disagreement on airport issues in state politics between the CDU and SPD, who currently form the joint government in Hesse. He paid tribute to the Greens and in particular their long-standing Economics and Transport Minister Tarek Al-Wazir, who had had to jump over many shadows because of the airport. Frankfurt's former Lord Mayor Petra Roth (CDU) described the airport as a "nucleus for tolerance and economic power."

"Frankfurt is the smallest major airport in the world," said the new Condor CEO Peter Gerber, praising the vacation airline's home airport. "You can't manage here if you don't work very closely together every day." The high level of expertise of all those involved is what makes the airport special and gives the airlines sufficient security for the high investments, especially in the aircraft.

Above all, Fraport CEO Schulte wished for "acceptance in the region" for the next 100 years. The airport had been created over time through numerous courageous decisions. "I don't believe that such a major project would still be possible today."/ceb/DP/jha