Tom Allett and Caroline Cook present a round-up of recent news and views from German and Austrian airports.
Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt
AT THE time of writing, June 2011, the much delayed new Berlin Airport looks set to open around one year from now. A complete redevelopment of the existing Berlin-Schönefeld facility, the new airport has had a bumpy ride over the last 18 months or so.
The airport was originally due to be named Berlin Brandenburg International once the redevelopment was complete, and was consistently referred to by the acronym BBI. The discovery that the IATA three-letter code BBI is already in use for the Biju Patnaik Airport in India means that when the new airport opens it will be identified as BER, which is currently the generic city code for the existing Schönefeld and Tegel airports.
At the same time, it was announced that the official name was changing. Berlin Brandenburg International was swapped for Berlin Brandenburg
Willy Brandt. The decision about the new name had become a matter of competing interests, with some involved wanting to honour stars from science or the arts. Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich were among the potential names put forward. Though many political opponents of the late ex-Chancellor, east-west peace campaigner and Nobel-Prize winner might be disappointed with the choice of Willy Brandt, his credentials appear to be a very good choice in terms of international PR value.
Aside from these ‘cosmetic’ changes, far more significant problems plagued the project as the planned opening was delayed for a variety of reasons including the economic downturn, the financial collapse of one of its major construction contractors and the need to redesign the layout of the security check area following a change of international regulations. Now though, all the major hurdles appear to have been cleared and hopefully the next 12 months will be free of major disruption.
On June 9, 2011, to mark one year from the opening date, a display illustrating what BER will look like was unveiled at Tegel. Representatives of the Berlin Airports company accompanied by the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, Brandenburg’s Prime Minister, Matthias Platzeck, and the architect of the new airport, Professor Dr Meinhard von Gerkan, unveiled a 12-metre high installation that provides Tegel’s passengers with views of the new airport.
In his speech, Berlin Airports CEO, Professor Dr Rainer Schwarz said: “One year before the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport, we have entered the home stretch. The new terminal, the south runway and the tower signal quite clearly that this is where the airport of the future for the region is being built – an airport that features a truly outstanding infrastructure and unique growth opportunities for airlines. With this installation at Tegel, we wish to invite passengers to experience the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport, and to join us in looking forward to the opening of Europe’s most modern airport.”
Klaus Wowereit, added: “The countdown has started. Today we say goodbye to the abbreviation BBI, which was only a working title during the planning and construction phase. In future, every ticket to and from Berlin, and every flight schedule will state BER, short for our new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport. BER will be the international code for all flights to and from Berlin. These three letters will replace our previous codes: TXL [Tegel], THF [Templehof] and SFX [Schönefeld]. BER stands for the vision of a strong, internationally networked business site which also includes a high-capacity, high-performance airport. Not a provincial airfield, but a large international hub that significantly shortens travelling times to many destinations all over the world and has competitive operating hours. In summary, BER stands for the type of airport the German capital, one of the most exciting and lively cities in Europe, fully deserves.”
Matthias Platzeck said: “Berlin Brandenburg Airport will have an immensely valuable impact on business and infrastructure. It offers vast opportunities for the development of business, research and services, and it creates thousands of jobs across the Brandenburg region, from Dahme-Spreewald and Teltow-Fläming as far afield as Lausitz. High-tech enterprises and scientific institutes will set up in the vicinity of the airport. Trade and service companies will help to generate more purchasing power. And, naturally, I look forward to the many international guests who will now be able to come to our beautiful state with even greater ease.”
Its architect, Professor Dr Meinhard von Gerkan, stated: “The new Berlin Brandenburg is an airport that perfectly corresponds to the Berlin and Brandenburg region. The design of the new airport echoes traditional local architecture, embedding BBI in the region’s cultural heritage. The structured facades and clear geometric forms of the terminal pick up on typical architectural elements, ranging from the Prussian architect Schinkel to the Bauhaus style. The main access road – a tree-lined avenue – references characteristic features of the towns and countryside of Berlin and Brandenburg.”
Together with the new structure at Tegel Airport, Berlin Airports has also unveiled the new corporate design for the airport, a new logo comprising the letters BER and the airport’s corporate colours will include what it describes as a “vibrant, radiant scarlet and a deep, classic crimson”: colours associated with the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.
The airport’s management team says that the launch of the new corporate design will be further reinforced by an advertising campaign throughout the Berlin and Brandenburg areas to introduce the new airport.
LAST YEAR was very positive for Dusseldorf as 19 million passengers used the airport. Dusseldorf is now the third-highest ranking airport in terms of passenger numbers, serving the city and the wider Rhein-Ruhr region.
The airport’s management team points to its mixture of customer airlines as the biggest reason for its success. Today, 70 airlines fly to more than 180 destinations in over 50 countries from Dusseldorf.
One major claim to fame is that – Frankfurt and Munich aside – Dusseldorf offers more intercontinental flights than all the other German commercial airports combined. At the time of writing, there are 91 weekly long-haul services from Dusseldorf.
The dominant airlines are Lufthansa and Air Berlin, which both use the airport as a hub and the airport’s minimum connecting time of 35 minutes is a key factor in its operation.
Dusseldorf came top of Skytrax's poll in the category of Airport Staff Service Excellence Europe.The airport recently won the Skytrax World Airport Award 2011 in the category of Staff Service Excellence Europe. The survey takes more than 240 airports into account – and this time Dusseldorf came out as the best European airport in terms of Staff Service Excellence. CEO Christoph Blume says: “The interviewed passengers judged the service quality of staff at our airport as very high. This positive vote encourages us to keep on investing in the service here at Dusseldorf airport.”
AS THIS year marks Frankfurt Airport’s 75th anniversary it was appropriate that during a time of celebration Fraport reported that 2010 had been the: “best year in the Company’s History.”
At the June 1 AGM, Executive Board Chairman Dr Stefan Schulte presented the 2010 business year results and commented: “In every respect, 2010 can be characterized as a year of strong growth for our company. This growth momentum resulted in significantly improved profitability – which is important for dealing with the financial burden of Frankfurt Airport’s (FRA) huge expansion programme.
“All of Fraport’s business segments are on the right course. Thanks to FRA’s capacity expansion, resulting from the new runway to be inaugurated later this year, and to our continuously improving operational performance, we are well-positioned as one of the leading global aviation hubs to meet the competition for the expected growth in traffic.”
In 2010, Fraport AG’s Frankfurt Airport home base achieved a noticeable increase in passenger figures and cargo tonnage. Both FRA’s capacity expansion and its programme to enhance overall service quality were described as “making tremendous progress”. The Fraport Group’s international business was recorded as “developing positively”.
According to Mr Schulte, Fraport’s success is driven by the increase in traffic volumes as well as the good performance of the company’s international investment airports. With a total of about 53 million passengers at FRA in 2010, Fraport saw traffic climb by just over 4% year-on-year, even though many European flights were grounded for several days due to the ash cloud crisis as well as the severe winter weather at the beginning and end of the year.
Fraport reports that its growth trend has also been continuing throughout the first months of this year and that over 5 million passengers during May 2011 made it the busiest May in the airport’s history.
During 2010, air cargo recorded an even stronger increase, rising by more than a fifth to 2.2 million metric tonnes last year making it FRA’s highest cargo figure ever.
Last year’s rising traffic figures led to a 9.2% jump in Group revenue to almost €2.2 billion (US$3.09bn). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) improved by almost a quarter to €710.6 million (US$1bn) – primarily due to successful development of its Antalya Airport investment, the significant upturn in its ground handling segment, plus growth in its Aviation, Retail and Real Estate segments. Fraport Group’s profit of €271.5 million (US$382m) comfortably exceeded the previous year’s achievements.
“Thus, 2010 has been the most successful year in the Fraport Group’s history,” concluded Schulte.
Schulte described the forthcoming opening of the new Northwest runway as the most important contribution to securing Frankfurt Airport’s competitive future. Meanwhile, the concrete surface and the taxiway bridges have already been completed. The first official landing of an aircraft on the new runway is scheduled to take place on October 21, 2011. Until then, work continues to install its new instrument landing system (ILS). When the runway is operational it will raise FRA’s capacity from today’s approximately 82 aircraft movements per hour to 90. In the medium term, Fraport plans to raise the capacity to about 100 movements per hour by 2015. With passenger traffic expected to increase by 4-7% per year, Frankfurt could be serving around 65 million passengers annually within four years.
To cope with this growth, other parts of the airport need to expand. For example, Schulte mentioned the huge westward extension of Terminal 1, known as Pier A-Plus. Construction of this “mega pier” is on schedule and looks set to be completed by the summer of 2012. Increasing the terminal’s annual capacity by six million passengers, Pier A-Plus will provide seven new parking positions for wide-body aircraft, including four Airbus A380s. Plans are also under way for the construction of a third terminal. The first phase of Terminal 3 is scheduled to be completed in late 2016 or early 2017.
Hamburg is 100!
HAMBURG AIRPORT celebrated its 100th birthday in January 2011. It is believed to be the only airport to have achieved this milestone while still in its original location. For more information on the anniversary and the airport’s century of history see the feature in the March 2011 edition of Airports International.
The city of Hamburg, with advantageous connections such as the Finkenwerder Airbus engineering facility, has been steadily developing as a centre of aviation excellence. Further evidence of this came to light on May 26, with the opening of the city’s so-called new ‘talent factory’ for the aviation industry.
In the presence of around 300 guests from the political, commercial, research and educational fields, Hamburg’s Governing Mayor, Olaf Scholz, opened the Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training (HCAT). Located in the Hamburg borough of Borgfelde, the HCAT building is almost 32,292 sq ft (3,000m2) and embodies what it describes as an “inter-campus cooperative project”, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in Europe. Universities, vocational training schools and the aviation industry all proactively network here in order to train various specialist skills on site.
The aim is to provide highly skilled personnel who are familiar with the very latest technology for Hamburg’s aviation sector of tomorrow.
DURING AN interview at Munich International Airport, CEO Dr Michael Kerkloh told Airports International that things are looking up again: “Business Class [traffic] is back again at we have had a much stronger performance from our emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.
“Despite the volatility of the German market, we are strategically strong thanks to the partnership between Lufthansa and the Star Alliance. Lufthansa has 125 aircraft based at Munich and our intercontinental flights are showing double-digit growth.
“We are a mature and efficient hub, but to maintain this position for the future we need to build a third runway here. We have 86% of Frankfurt’s traffic but only two runways to cope with it.”
Dr Kerkloh points out that there is some political support for the Bavarian hub’s third runway and that he hopes to receive the go-ahead during this summer. If permission is granted, Dr Kerkloh expects the runway’s few opponents to appeal against the decision so, being realistic, even if the decisions go in favour of the airport, construction work can’t begin before the second half of 2012. If and when the third runway enters service it will raise Munich’s runway capacity from 90 to 120 movements per hour.
A major development that already has all the necessary approvals is the Satellite Terminal, which will use an existing underground tunnel to link it to Terminal 2.
Dr Kerkloh said: “We should see the first construction cranes by the end of this year.” When complete, the new building will raise Munich’s capacity by 11 million passengers, bringing it in line with Frankfurt’s current capacity. Emphasising the importance of a third runway Dr Kerkloh adds: “We want to keep service quality and convenience levels high, even though we have a busier airport.”
VIENNA INTERNATIONAL Airport is nearing the completion of its Skylink terminal expansion, which will open in the first half of 2012. The new facility will enable the airport to cope with the growing passenger volumes expected. A total area of 1,614,639 sq ft (150,000m2) will then be available for passengers and airlines, equivalent to double the existing terminal space, as well as 64 check-in counters, 12 central security checkpoints, eight departure counters and ten baggage conveyor belts. Skylink’s 1,476ft (450m) long pier has 17 passenger boarding bridges, 33 Schengen gates, 15 non-Schengen gates, 19 transfer security check isles and 18 immigration counters for passport control.
Vienna handled 19.7 million passengers in 2010, a figure that reflects a growth rate of 8.7%, which is an above average performance in European terms. The airport’s management team attribute this mainly to increased revenues from Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Austrian Airlines’ new strategy of using larger aircraft.
The airport would have recorded more than 20 million passengers in 2010 for the first time, but was prevented from doing so by the impact of the Icelandic ash cloud in April and the snow and weather chaos that struck some European airports in December.
At the time of writing, June 2011, essential maintenance work is underway on Vienna’s runways 11/29 and 16/34. Depending upon how weather conditions affect the work in progress, this task is expected to be complete by August 12.
SALZBURG AIRPORT W A Mozart has launched a new website – www.salzburg-airport.com – which the airport says “constitutes a quantum leap in the area of online communication”. In addition to extensive information in German and English, the new website also features a simplified, clearly arranged navigation structure and many new and useful tools have also been integrated. In addition to the current arrivals and departures and news, the home page also features a route map with clickable destinations, an improved search function, an A to Z index form and a tag index containing key words that are frequently searched for.
“Of course, in addition to our passengers, we also count airlines, pilots and concessionaries among our customers. A new feature on the website for this particular customer sector is the forms for enquiries related to handling and aircraft parking areas. Thus, swift and efficient service at Salzburg Airport can now be booked online,” explains Salzburg Airport’s Managing Director Karl Heinz Bohl.
The press section of the site has also been significantly improved upon and expanded. Password protected, the press area has been set up for all journalists and media representatives who, via log-in, can access much more information than was previously possible. This area is also equipped for a possible expansion with regard to visual media. A mobile version with important web contents is being prepared and will be available in time for the peak tourist season in early summer. The website’s re-launch was performed by pixelart, a Salzburg agency that has successfully handled two previous airport projects: www.amadeus-terminal2.com and www.carport-parkmanagement.com.
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