Michael Kerkloh has been, since 2002, CEO of Munich Airport (Germany), chosen as best European airport for eight consecutive years. Its Terminal 2 has been classified as on e of the six best terminals in the world for transit passengers and it is second placed in the category for travel experience, comfort and leisure. You can surf, your children can play mini-golf and also has sleep pods, among a number of other unique activities. What is the secret of its success? Michael Kerkloh shares it with us in this interview.
Mobile communication technology will permit full optimisation of the entire travel chain.
Next year the new Munich Airport will celebrate its 25th anniversary. How has the airport developed over these years since 1992?
Since it went into operation in 1992, Munich Airport has developed at an enormous pace. In contrast to the classical “city airport” at the old location in Munich-Riem, the new airport rapidly developed into a very successful “airport city”, which now handles more than 100,000 passengers a day and is the workplace for 32,000 employees at more than 500 companies. Today Munich Airport is a major international hub and ranks among the busiest in Europe. We started in 1992 with 12 million passengers. Since then we have more than tripled that number to 41 million passengers per year. And our airport has expanded to keep pace with demand: In 1999 we opened the Munich Airport Center, followed by Terminal 2 in 2003. Now the satellite terminal is set to go into operation – to name just a few important milestones. Our next major project for the future is the construction of a third runway.
Munich Airport has a roadmap for the future: the Corporate Strategy 2025. What role do new technologies play in this plan?
As a five-star-airport, we aim to provide our passengers with first-class service. Wherever possible, we aim to create innovative solutions and, especially when it comes to optimising our handling processes, we want to use leading-edge technologies whenever possible. This certainly applies to all of our key strategic areas. However, we expect to see innovations especially with regard to “seamless travel”. With the wealth of possibilities offered by advanced information technology, we want to present our passengers with a continuous range of services and experiences geared to their individual needs. With mobile communication technology we will be able to provide passengers with individualised travel information and personalised product and service offers. This will permit full optimisation of the entire travel chain from the door at home to the aircraft through digital networking, and will mean even greater customer satisfaction. But in general, networking plays a role in all of our strategic planning, for example in the networking of mobility portals offering access to modern transportation services such as e-mobility, car sharing and innovative parking concepts. Our ultimate goal is to develop Munich Airport into a multimodal transportation node.
What are the goals of Munich Airport in terms of sustainability for the coming future?
Sustainability is a key element in the responsible development of our airport encompassing all generations. For years we have been making very serious efforts, for example to reduce CO2 emissions at the airport. We have set the goal of achieving carbon-neutral development at the airport by 2020. The baseline year for that target is 2005, and despite our airport expansion and the continuing growth in traffic, we will keep our CO2 emissions at the 2005 level in the future as well. That is certainly an ambitious goal, but with innovative technology and creative solutions, we will get there. Sustainable and environmentally friendly airport operations are the key to the successful long-term development of air travel. The “licence to grow” that we require to expand our infrastructure has to be earned. That is our social responsibility.
Year after year, Munich Airport has won the title of “Europe’s Best Airport” at the World Airport Awards, and last year it became Europe’s first five-star airport. This is the result of hard work and commitment. What makes this airport different from the rest?
Naturally we’re delighted with the many honours and awards that keep coming to Munich Airport. A comment we hear from passengers again and again is how much they appreciate the pleasant atmosphere at Munich Airport that welcomes them like a foretaste of the easy-going Munich lifestyle. There is no doubt that our many friendly employees have a big impact on the positive image of our airport. You can expect effective handling operations and procedures at any airport. But I think that now, what people are really looking for is the overall experience and all that can entail. Perhaps this unique “local spirit” is also a big part of what makes us special? In any case, passengers should have an immediate sense that they haven’t landed just anywhere, but rather in Munich. We’ve also made that part of our dining concept. We want the people who come here from all over the world to get an immediate first impression of the Bavarian lifestyle and the local sense of fun and enjoyment. For achieving that, the key is perhaps the unmistakable and authentic atmosphere. In our newly opened satellite terminal, too, passengers can enjoy typical regional hospitality and a wide selection of Bavarian specialities. And, of course there is Airbräu – the world’s only airport brewery. What better way could there be for a Bavarian airport to welcome the world. Right at the heart of the airport our very own beers, brewed right on the premises, are on tap, perfectly complemented by hearty Bavarian fare. Sit down, relax and make yourself at home.
What high-quality services does the airport provide to its customers?
Munich Airport sets itself apart with its excellent service, appealing and modern ambiance and outstanding comfort. Vacationers and business travelers can plan their experience at Munich Airport according to their individual needs. Waiting time can be a time to kick back and regenerate – or an opportunity to get things done. Comfortable seating and reclining benches in the departure areas offer an inviting place to read or switch off. And the newly designed business areas with over 30 places are ideal for working in a relaxed setting. Many little details show how much Munich Airport cares about the comfort and well-being of its passengers and visitors – for example the many different amenities offered to travelers with disabilities or families with small children. The airport’s retail world is an ideal landing spot for exclusive brands. A wide range of services and events boost the airport’s appeal. Equally impressive is the unique range of bars and restaurants that have garnered multiple awards for Munich Airport. Attention-grabbing campaigns and spectacular events like Surf & Style, a tennis camp and public viewing events prove time and again: Munich Airport is much more than just a place to take off and land!
The new satellite facility for Munich Airport’s Terminal 2 will be officially opened next month. The additional handling capacity will grow to 36 million passengers per year. How does the satellite transform the passenger experience?
As one of the world’s most advanced airport terminal facilities, the satellite will transform the passenger experience and offer a new level of comfort. The new facility will give Munich Airport 27 new gate positions where passengers can board aircraft directly without bus transportation. As the first midfield terminal at a German airport, the new satellite has no public access. Check-in will take place in Terminal 2. Passengers will then undergo passport screening and hand baggage checks before boarding an underground personal transport system that will take them to the satellite terminal in less than a minute. There they will find the full range of services and passenger handling facilities as well as extensive shopping and dining options. Forming the heart of this exciting world will be the central marketplace, which is flooded with natural light. The retail and dining options will include a wide selection of premium German and international brands, popular Bavarian retailers, and local bars and restaurants. From the Platzl, where guests can watch the chefs performing their magic in an open kitchen, to the Lenbachs tower bar, or a coffee at Sissi & Franz, Bavarian tradition and hospitality live side by side with Munich’s laid-back lifestyle. It’s all about relaxation and feeling at home. The entire area, with 7,000 square meters of floor space, has 16 retail outlets, seven bars and restaurants, and three duty-free shops.