Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt airport, said its passenger count is set to expand by more than 10 million in less than a decade, highlighting the need for a third terminal.

The passenger count will rise to between 68 million and 73 million by 2021, Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schulte said at a press conference today, citing two independent expert opinions he presented. Without a new terminal, more than a quarter of wide-body planes will have to park on the tarmac for passengers using buses shuttling them to existing buildings, he said.

“We’ll still be able to handle about 64 million passengers fairly smoothly,” Schulte said. “Once we surpass 68 million, we’ll hit bottlenecks with massive disruptions, and quality will deteriorate.”

Fraport is lobbying for a new terminal, for which it won local planning permission on Aug. 12. The project is still not a given, after Tarek Al-Wazir, the economy minister in Fraport’s home state of Hesse, said he wants the region to focus less on aviation and financial services and promising voters to try and prevent further expansion of Europe’s third-largest airport.

The executive today reiterating Frankfurt will see just under 60 million passengers this year. A new terminal would in itself not increase noise, and the company is prepared to start negotiations with the federal government, Schulte said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net.

Photo Credit: Frankfurt Airport's Terminal A. Angelo DeSantis / Flickr