How is Munich Airport using digitalisation?

Dr Ralf Gaffal: There are several new trends in the airport sector that are forcing us to adapt our services. Digitalisation is one example. Smartphones are now ubiquitous, and integrating them into the daily operations of an airport is a big challenge. We have a special team dedicated to dealing with this trend, and to identifying the right digitalisation strategy for our airport. The main goal is to use smartphones to increase the level of information to the passenger regarding their journey, shopping opportunities and queue lengths, among other things. Ultimately, it comes down to using digitalisation to increase the level of service and quality for the passenger, and reduce their stress levels.

How is commercialisation an increasingly important part of your work?

In most places, airports are increasing their non-aviation revenue streams. At Munich Airport, we have set up an ‘airport city’. We now offer a range of services beyond flights. For example, we offer ample landside shopping opportunities, hotel and conference facilities, a kindergarten, a clinic and even our own brewery. We plan to open more office spaces, a new academy and residential areas to complement the ‘airport city’ character of our airport.

What about automation processes?

We have been working hard to improve passenger-processing technologies. We’ve combined our online self check-in service with our automated baggage drop-off, for example. By attaching an RFID chip to bags, passengers don’t even have to print a baggage tag anymore. We are also trying to optimise our security checks. In future, we hope to let passengers keep their jackets on during the security process, for instance. We expect that immigration will also be automated. In short, the trend is towards so-called ‘seamless travel’, which will make the process quicker and more convenient.

What kind of airport management and consultant services do you provide?

Munich Airport is a full service operator involved in all airportrelated businesses. This covers everything from planning, design and construction management to IT services, commercial activities and security services. Our Flughafen München Group (FMG) consists of 15 companies, all focused on different areas of the business, such as international management, consulting and training services. By now, FMG has over 25 years of international management and operational experience with a proven track record of successfully delivering projects across all geographies and cultures. This knowledge and expertise has recently been centralised in a wholly-owned subsidiary Munich Airport International (MAI). We are world leaders in operations efficiency, commercial-revenue maximisation, customer experience and energy efficiency. One recent projects involved a ‘health check’ at our clients’ airports to identify improvement opportunities.

Why should customers choose Munich Airport International over your competitors?

As an airport operator, we better understand the daily challenges of operations and the needs of airport customers than consulting firms. As far as other airports are concerned, we have a deeper understanding of airport processes and the links between different airport businesses. Munich Airport has been managing all airport businesses in-house for over 65 years. This experience allows us to offer integrated support that is tailored to the needs of our clients.

What lessons has Munich learned on the way to becoming a world class airport?

Becoming a world class airport was a team effort. This started back in the 1970s, when all our employees came together to fulfil our original master plan. This focus on teamwork has continued ever since. After all, delivering a quality service every day requires open communication, data sharing and exchange. With the competition constantly breathing down our neck, staying ahead of the pack is a challenge. It forces us to continuously improve our services. The results of all this show: we run the best passenger terminal in the world and are the best choice for European business travellers.

What plans do you have for the future?

We plan to increase our international presence by opening regional sales offices and acquiring airport-related business firms in our key markets. At the same time, we plan to develop our consulting, management and training service portfolio. The travel market is growing fast and changing the needs of our clients. We have to adapt and serve our clients abroad, as well as in Munich.