Inside Frankfurt’s partially finished Terminal 3

Photo: © Jakob Wert / IFN

Frankfurt Airport’s expansion has reached a significant milestone. The construction of Terminal 3’s pier G has recently been completed. But the terminal is far from being open. Originally accelerated to quickly cater the needs of low-cost carriers such as Ryanair (which has left Frankfurt in the meantime), it’s inauguration has now been pushed backwards due to two difficult years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

2021 was supposed to be the opening year for Terminal 3, at least with pier G. The main hall and piers H and J were set to follow in 2023. However, the introduction of the entire building complex has been delayed to 2026, despite part of it being mostly completed. The finished part has now entered hibernation, airport operator Fraport explains.

It is going to take a while before travellers can use the technically finished pier G. Photo: © Jakob Wert / IFN

A first look

A media tour was organized for a look into a terminal that might not even be in use for another four years. That is, according to current plans. It is possible for Fraport to once again pull forward the opening date of pier G, should traffic numbers increase significantly. A twelve month notice would be required in order to finish its interior, including getting shops and restaurants on board. A security check also needs to be installed.

Stefan Schulte, CEO of Fraport (left) and Harald Rohr, head of Fraport’s subsidiary for the construction of Terminal 3 (right). The images show what the currently empty building could look like in the future. Photo: © Jakob Wert / IFN

The new pier is primarily designed for point-to-point travel, typically served by leisure or low-cost carriers. This results in a very ‘functional’ terminal interior, that shows a lot of concrete and does not stand out by implementing extraordinary architectural designs. There are no lounges, passenger bridges or other ‘luxury’. Of the 13 total aircraft parking positions, nine are directly situated at the gates, while four are bus gates.

The building is a total of 400 metres long, has an area of 22,000 square metres and is able to serve up to five million passengers per year. Fraport is already planning a 200 metre length extension of the pier, which would raise capacity to seven million passengers. However, it is not yet clear when construction of the expansion would begin, considering the already existing infrastructure is not even being used for the time being.

Rendering of Terminal 3 once completed. Current pier G in blue, possible expansion in purple & orange. Image: © Fraport

Overall, pier G will be the smallest of Terminal 3’s three initial piers, but the only one capable of serving both Schengen and non-Schengen flights. H and J, which are intended to serve one of each respectively, will together have an area of 90,000 square metres and a capacity of 14 million passengers per year, making them noticeably larger than low-cost-oriented G.

Despite being part of the same airport terminal, piers H and J are going to be vastly different from G. With the former featuring a large departure hall, more advanced interior design, passenger bridges, and the potential for lounges. It is not yet clear which airlines will use Terminal 3 once completed.

Piers H and J, including Terminal 3’s main hall, are still under construction. Photo: © Jakob Wert / IFN

The new terminal complex is located south of Frankfurt Airport. An automated people mover system is being built to connect passengers to Terminals 1 and 2 in the north. A journey that will take approximately eight minutes. A parking garage for about 8,500 cars has already been constructed and is partially in service.

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