Otto von Bismarck once said that “an appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts.” No more is this true than the economic powerhouse that Germany has developed into today. Having courageously risen phoenix-like out of the ashes of destruction from Second World War, the German industrial engine at the heart of Europe now plays a pivotal role in the EU and is a reference point for all those seeking an example of design, manufacturing and administrative excellence.
A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to attend a study tour with the MIB School of Management to the southern heartland of Germany – the mighty province of Bavaria. Never having been to Germany before, I was quite literally, bowled over. Allow me to cite two incredible examples of the trip that help illustrate my opinion:
Of those passengers who have ever travelled through Munich Airport recently, many an eye-brow has been raised as to how quickly they are able to transfer from one flight to the next, while having a most pleasurable experience, and almost every time, their luggage follows them on to their final destination too! It may sound banal, but Munich Airport has worked this down to a fine and extremely efficient art.
As explained by Mr Wolfgan Martini, Deputy Head of Customer Services at Munich Airport, it is all about managing the airport as more than just a simple airport. It is about the seamless integration of international best practice – by being constantly aware of the latest developments in the industry, innovation, sustainability and attractiveness. Coupled with a determination to constantly strive to be the best airport in Europe, substantial support from all stakeholders and you have a winning formula for success.
The story of Munich Airport has been the constant evolution of the airport from a basic city-airport into a fully-fledged airport-city. In other words, more than just offering aviation related services such as flight handling facilities and passenger transfer terminals, an added emphasis has been placed on transforming the airport into a multi-function office and communication service centre so as to provide real value on multiple levels to a wide variety of potential users. Supporting this are extensive retail, dining, beauty and wellness services and last but not least is the use of the extensive airport facilities as a venue for events such as indoor surfing, polo tournaments, concerts and public viewing. All this creates not only value for the airport traveller but also provides an attraction for people living in Munich and its surrounding areas to visit the airport more often and to view the establishment as an integral part of social fabric of Bavaria.
One should bear in mind though that a fundamental pillar to any organisation which is determined to make a positive impact on society is growth. Without growth, all well wishes to sustainability, efficiency and being the number one airport in Europe is all pie-in-the-sky. Munich Airport plans to maintain its current passenger growth rate at a constant 6% while its cargo facility it will ramp up to 8% year on year till 2025. All of this is possible as a result of two major expansion projects – the construction of a new passenger island-terminal which will provide capacity for another 11 million passengers per annum and the addition of a third runway which will enable the airport to handle 120 aircraft movements per hour. A significant increase by any standard!
Last but not least is the special relationship that Munich Airport enjoys with Lufthansa, the German National Airline. As mentioned by Christoph Titze, Lufthansa Director of Passenger Services at Munich Airport, key to the success of the Munich Hub was Lufthansa’s decision to permanently base a significant portion of their fleet there and operate this detachment as an independent-like sub airline.
The majority of the Lufthansa fleet based in Munich is standardised around the Airbus model-range. This enables the use of only one type of aircraft-rated pilots and simplifies training and maintenance procedures, all resulting in significant cost savings. Furthermore, the use of code-sharing arrangements with the many Star Alliance partners who have been enticed to fly to Munich too, enable the airlines to more efficiently benefit from each other’s unique route offerings.
As a compliment to the efficient and pleasing Munich Airport environment, Lufthansa has also gone to great lengths to improve their own service offering. This is evident through the Lufthansa Service Excellence program which focuses on the following 5 points:
- We take care of you personally
- We respect your status and culture
- We ensure safety you can feel
- We show professionalism in appearance and performance
- We have an eye for details
This and special services for First and Business Class passengers such as curb-side check in services and limousine services, for regular passengers a self-check in facility and an internet notification system updating all passengers on the status of their flight (if it is delays or on schedule) all help guarantee a high level of customer satisfaction and all while leveraging off the benefits Munich Airport has to offer passengers too.
It is not just about the joining of synergies of two companies at the end of the day that has ensured the operations taking place at Munich Airport are a model for all to follow in the aviation industry. It is also about the Germanic desire for efficiency, order and the unrelenting quest to develop the German economy, in all respects.
Munich Airport and Lufthansa have helped to a significant extent in reinforcing the idea of a Germany at the heart of Europe. Or is it though a Germany that is in intent on controlling Europe by being the central pivot of the European continent? The latter is perhaps a topic of another essay but from whichever perspective you look at it, the German economic miracle, and the lessons one can learn from it, in today’s globalised world simply cannot be ignored.
(Picture source: http://www.airportsinternational.com)