Postcard from... Kassel


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The Independent Online

The Up & Away restaurant was built for airline passengers but there is not much “up” happening at the brand new airport it caters for, just outside the provincial German city of Kassel. However “away” is in plentiful supply. Opened in April and costing €270m (£226m), Kassel-Calden is a classic case of political and bureaucratic bungling.

It employs 140 people, but no scheduled flights will take off or land on its runways this winter. It was constructed at the behest of politicians, despite warnings that it was hardly necessary given the easy access to nearby Frankfurt’s huge international airport. Kassel-Calden is losing €750,000 a month, and has become the butt of jokes.

It’s been dubbed “the airport that nobody needs”, yet its director insists that it needs more time to attract scheduled flights and that things will pick up in the summer. But by law its 140 staff have to turn up every day, to keep the place open. The fire crew has been kept busy cutting the grass.

“Our friends crack jokes about us because we work here,” complained the security chief to Der Spiegel magazine. At the restaurant, staff have served meals to a handful of stray hikers. The manager says acquaintances often ask her why she bothers to turn up to work. “That hurts,” she says.