The expectations and needs of passengers and customers are changing. The airport wants not only to respond to these but also to set trends via innovative solutions.
Munich Airport wants to meet the challenges of the coming years with numerous measures, and thus shape the future of the company. The man responsible for the Group strategy behind this is Jörg Ebbighausen, head of Corporate Development at Munich Airport. Before coming here, he worked for many years in leading companies in the media and telecommunications sector. «If we do not identify the key trends of the future and position ourselves accordingly», he warns, «we will not be able to utilize all the successes of the past and the present.»
Even though all the forecasts indicate that aviation will continue to grow strongly in the medium term, the 45-year old has identified three developments that will play an important role for the airport: Firstly, the airlines will continue to experience high cost pressure. Secondly, the retail businesses at the airport have long since been feeling the impact of competition from online retailers and of changed consumer behavior. And thirdly, new actors are increasingly pushing their way into the journey chain, offering and marketing services to customers such as information, transfers, and parking. «All three trends challenge our business model», says Ebbighausen. «We can only counter this by ensuring that our existing business model is as well protected as possible and, on the other hand, by opening up new business fields for ourselves.»
The airlines continue to operate under high cost pressure.
Retailers are feeling the consequences of changing consumer behavior and online competition.
New players are pushing into the market, offering customers services such as information, transfers, and parking.
The expansion of Terminal 1, which is now underway, primarily serves the first objective: «By improving the quality of stay for passengers there and meeting the higher requirements of the airlines, we are creating an attractive space for new offerings and services», says Ebbighausen. Other measures that protect the existing business model include offers that are not directly related to aviation (non-aviation). Here the concept of «seamless travel», where the entire journey from door to door is organized such that it is as seamless as possible, plays an important role. In addition, the landside access and traffic development are to continue to improve.
Improved landside access via train
«With the commissioning of the Neufahrn curve at the end of 2018, a first step has been taken toward rectifying a «birth defect» of the airport», says Ebbighausen happily. Since the winter timetable of 2018/2019, direct trains from and to Regensburg can now come directly into the terminal. As part of the Erding ring closure, the extension of the existing railway tunnel under the airport is also progressing – requiring an investment of € 115 million. «The airport is funding this from its own resources», according to Ebbighausen. The next step in this process is the planned expansion of the Munich-Mühldorf-Freilassing railway line. This would secure and even enlarge the catchment area of Munich Airport, which currently already extends from Ulm in the West to Nuremberg in the North, Linz in the East to Bolzano in the South.
With the Neufahrner Kurve, rail passengers from eastern Bavaria can come directly to the airport. At the moment, work is ongoing on the Erdinger Ringschluss and the connection to southeastern Bavaria.
Seamless travel from door to gate
Stefan Häberlein is also working on closing the gaps for Munich Airport. The 37-year old head of Strategy and Sustainability organized the process with which the concept of seamless travel was developed. This is the response to the challenge posed by the large Internet companies, who through their increasing number of applications are also pushing their way into the traditional business of the airport: for example with apps that organize parking, with travel services, with online shopping. «In the digital world, we no longer have our business in our own hands exclusively, and we must therefore take action», says Häberlein. The result is the «passngr»-app, an information system that other airports alongside Munich are now offering their passengers – airports such as Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Münster-Osnabrück. «Other airports could follow this year; our aim is to make passngr a go-to application in the German-speaking world», says the trained economist, who started at Munich Airport eleven years ago as an intern. «If an app like this can offer passengers added value, it will increase its reach», Häberlein forecasts.
New concepts for changing mobility and shopping behavior
In recent times, more and more people have been using the app, for which Rainer Beeck is responsible. «Almost 20% of parking at the airport is already booked online», the head of Commercial Activities reports delightedly. But the area of parking is also being challenged, says Beeck. «Already, we are seeing 150,000 movements with car sharing vehicles per year; that is one fifth of the rental car market.» And then autonomous driving is also knocking at the door. «For us, this has commercial, technical, structural, and legal consequences, which are a long way from being fully clarified.»
Another area of Beeck’s Commercial Activities division is also facing major changes. «The brand manufacturers are very unsettled given the enormous increase in online trade; they are asking themselves whether they even need new locations at the airport.» Nonetheless, Beeck is not anxious about the future of his division: «Locations that are as attractive as our terminals and boast their footfall are few and far between and for many of our tenants, the sales achieved there are not the only factor to be considered. For them, events, creating brand identity, establishing contacts, and sometimes even market research are also important.» Instead of purely retail stores, he and his colleagues are noticing a trend toward hybrid concepts comprising retail and catering as well as what are known as «concept stores». The expansion of Terminal 1 will also create very attractive spaces for innovative ideas.