Groningen Airport Eelde

Groningen Airport Eelde

Ecorys has highlighted the ocean costs and benefits of Groningen Airport Eelde, this happened at the request of the province of Drenthe.

This province is a co-shareholder of the airport, together with the province of Groningen and the municipalities of Assen, Groningen and Tynaarlo.

Reason for investigation

The study of the social costs and benefits stems from the demand for the airport by its shareholders of 8.5 million euros in investments in a public investment contribution. At the same time, the Northern Netherlands Court of Audit concluded at the end of last year, that the shareholders had never prepared a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) of the airport: while many public investments were made. Moreover, it is also expected that public contributions to the operation of the airport will continue to be requested in the future, according to the Court.

Research question

The central question in the SCBA is: What social return on costs and benefits is associated with any public investment in the development of Groningen Airport Eelde for the Northern Netherlands?

Ecorys has studied its two alternatives:

  1. Public investment of € 8.5 million in fire station, terminal and route fund
  2. Closing the airport in the short term

With the first alternative, the social return of the requested investment contribution can be determined. The second alternative is part of the added value in the northern Netherlands.


Alternative 1

The SCBA shows that the investment in the passenger terminal and fire station leads to a slightly positive social return. This is mainly due to a waiting time reduction for passengers in the terminal. It should be noted here that it is not clear whether there are alternatives to the proposed investment to address the waiting times in the terminal. The investment in the route fund should provide more scheduled services, which means a significant social return. However, the causality between the fund and the actual realization of scheduled flights is very diffuse. That is why realising the social return on this is fairly uncertain.

Alternative 2

Closing the airport leads to a socio-economic loss for society in the Northern Netherlands. After all, major investments have been made in the recent past, for example in the runway extension of the airport. In the short term, closure of the airport does not lead to the avoidance of major future costs. There is, however, a loss of travel time for passengers, who then have to travel via an alternative airport that is further away than Groningen Airport Eelde. In the long term, closure also means a loss of at most around 420 direct and indirect full-time jobs.


The Ecorys report has served as important input for decision-making by the Provincial Executive of the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen. On 8 April 2014, they decided not to invest in the terminal, fire station and route fund.

10 April 2019

2 minute read

Key Experts

Geert Smit

Sector leader