Germany is home to a wide variety of airports that serve a huge range of locations and purposes. The likes of Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC) rank among its main passenger hubs, while a considerable amount of airfreight is funneled through Leipzig-Halle (LEJ). However, away from these, the highest of them all is Memmingen, which sits some 633 meters (2,077 feet) above sea level.
A brief history of the airport
The facility, which is also known as Allgäu Airport Memmingen (FMM), began its life, like many other commercial airports, as a military base. Having initially been used by German forces during the Second World War, the post-war era saw the US Air Force train there until the mid-1950s. Shortly after, the German military returned.
The German Air Force’s presence in Memmingen lasted into the 21st century, with a fighter-bomber wing known as Allgäu (after the region that Memmingen is located in) being housed there until 2003. The following year, the base began a new lease of life as a commercial airport, although it initially saw minimal demand in this regard.
Indeed, it was only once low-cost and leisure carriers began using the airport, sometimes as a budget alternative to Munich, that it began to flourish commercially. The arrivals of TUI and Ryanair helped prompt a 75% increase in passenger numbers, which, according to Merkur, rose from 462,000 in 2008 to 810,000 in 2009.
Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock
While TUI no longer serves Memmingen, Ryanair retains a considerable presence there today. Despite the facility’s considerable distance from Munich (120 km / 75 miles), the airport is a key resource for the Irish low-cost carrier, which serves both seasonal and year-round destinations from Memmingen. The airline even opened a base there in 2017, and now stations three jets at the airport.
With Ryanair having made Memmingen work so well, low-cost rival Wizz Air has also got in on the act there. It is the airport’s second-largest operator by destinations served, with its network mainly focusing on eastern Europe. However, it also offers direct services to Italian cities such as Catania (CTA) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO).
The majority of Memmingen’s other routes are of a seasonal or charter nature, which reflects the importance of the leisure market in German aviation. Some of the key corridors in this regard link the facility with Antalya (Corendon Airlines), Crete/Heraklion (Aegean from May 2023), and Palma de Mallorca (Eurowings).
Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock
Passenger numbers are back on the up
Memmingen Airport spent much of the 2010s seeing its annual passenger figures tick toward one million. It finally exceeded this milestone for the first time in 2017, and the facility’s pre-coronavirus peak in 2019 was in excess of 1.7 million. However, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 saw this drop to less than 700,000.
This represented the lowest annual total since 2008. However, things improved the following year, with 2021’s total being just shy of one million. Recent times have seen a particular boom, with 2022’s figure coming to 1.99 million, as reported by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The projected figure for 2023 is some 2.3 million, and it will be interesting to see how much further the airport grows going forward.
What do you make of the routes served from Memmingen? Have you ever used Germany’s highest commercial airport? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Sources: Aviation Direct, Memmingen Airport, Merkur, Süddeutsche Zeitung