Germany’s Munich Airport will likely see a significant delay—if not an outright stop—of plans to build a third runway following regional elections in Bavaria Oct. 14.

Following state elections, ruling conservative party CSU lost its absolute majority in parliament and now must form a coalition.

CSU expressed a strong preference to partner with a group called Freie Waehler (FW, free voters), initially a lose conglomerate of independent local politicians. FW became the third largest force in Bavaria’s parliament Landtag.

While conservative, it is also strongly opposed to planned expansion of Munich Airport, a favorite project of Prime Minister Markus Soeder (CSU). Observers believe Soeder will be prepared to delay a decision until after the next five-year electoral term to get FW on board.

The two parties said they want to conclude negotiations to form the coalition within the next two weeks and are required by the constitution to create a new government within four weeks.

Munich Airport has gone through the entire planning and approval process for the project to build a third, 4,000-meter (13,123 ft.) runway, which could be ready by 2025 if detailed planning and construction went ahead soon. However, it still needs approval by the government, which is also a major shareholder in airport operator FMG.

FMG has argued the airport is already operating at capacity in peak times and it urgently needs additional capacity to grow the hub and improve connectivity. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, however, said just days prior to the election the airline could live with a delay of several years, a statement that runs counter to the airport’s ambitions.

Lufthansa is Munich Airport’s main user. It has been growing its long-haul network there at the expense of Frankfurt, its main hub. Among others, Lufthansa has moved five Airbus A380s to the Munich base and said the decision has paid off. It is transferring larger capacity narrowbodies, such as Airbus A321s, to the base to provide more feed, while more Bombardier CRJ900s will fly from Frankfurt.

In the current debate about flight delays and cancellations in Europe, the carrier has argued airport capacity should be contained to reduce the burden on air traffic control (ATC) and other bottlenecks. It has drawn criticism from other players arguing that such a path helps solidify its already strong market position.

Separately, Lufthansa executive board member Harry Hohmeister said the group as a whole has had to cancel 18,000 flights this year because of disruptions. He accused ATC, airports and security check organization of being responsible for the current mess. However, Eurocontrol Central Office of Delay Analysis data shows the root causes are almost evenly split between airlines and air traffic control issues.

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.com