During ITB Berlin 2014, eTN Publisher Juergen T Steinmetz sat down with Dr. Pierre Dominique Prumm responsible for planning of FRAPORT AG and International Spokesperson Robert Payne. FRAPORT manages twelve airports in various parts of the world. Among the twelve airports is Frankfurt International Airport in Germany.
What is new at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany?
FRAPORT is in the middle of an expansion program. Currently we handle 58 million passengers a year and expect this number to go up to 88 million after the expansion.
The first part was our new runway. This is now operational and enables us to increase punctuality a lot. We’ve reached an on-time performance of 90 percent based on our 15-minute slots.
Even last month during the top winter month we registered an all time high of 88 percent on time operation, which is excellent and we’re proud of it.
We also opened a new passenger pier exclusively for Lufthansa and they use it mostly for long haul flights to the North America and Asia.
Passenger feedback shows us the new terminal is liked with its brand new infrastructure.
In the pipeline is to remodel cell by cell at our airport. Some of our terminals were built in the 70’ and its time to remodel some of them.
What about the long walks between terminals, specially when walking to the US departure gates?
As you know we built an internal passenger train service that currently has 3 stops. We’re adding an additional stop to include terminal C and the US departure gates. This would mean passengers can select to take a train instead of walking to their gate. We expect all of this to be completed in 2016/2017.
Of course, the bottom of the line is. Frankfurt is a very large airport and has some long walks. This is why we are a large airport.
What is the secret for the short waits at security and immigration at FRAPORT?
Comparing to US airports you are absolutely correct. We have shorter waits in Europe, but were still working on increasing our overall standards with even shorter waits and efficiency.
The German Federal Police is responsible for security at Frankfurt Airport. We are in close contact with them and are transparent in our communication. We measure waits constantly and compare this data with the Federal Police. This is a good basis for discussion with facts on hand.
We also have wait times listed on our homepage. A passenger can plan accordingly when heading to FRAPORT airport.
Do you offer something like TSA pre-check in the US?
Such a system would be illegal in Germany. Profiling is illegal and offering such advantages to a certain group of passengers would be seen as profiling.
I recently had the chance to fly out on Lufthansa using its new First Class Terminal. Do you plan something like this for other airlines as well?
No, right now only LH [Lufthansa] has such a terminal. However we at FRAPORT are working on our own VIP treatment product with our own lounge and activities. It will be even faster than Lufthansa and passengers or airlines can book this service from FRAPORT for a fee.
What about expansion plans?
Recently Lufthansa added many new destinations. In addition, we have 120 airlines flying to FRAPORT. New ones are coming all the time. Recently AIR EUROPE, MONGOLIAN and BIMAN BANGLADESH started services to Frankfurt.
What about capacity?
We currently have about 100 movements per hour with a capacity of 126. The size of the aircraft does not make a difference. We welcome the A380 and have no lack of available slots. In the past, we were always known as the airport with no slots. This has changed. We actually reward airlines if they add Frankfurt or increase service and come with low noise and environmental friendly planes.
There are three major airports in Germany – Munich, Dussseldorf and Frankfurt, and sometimes in the future Berlin Brandenburg will open. Is there that much demand?
Yes, Munich developed due to FRAPORT was always at capacity, now cards are reversed. Munich is capacity and Frankfurt has slots available.
Of course, London and Paris are major European airports competing with us, but I am not worried about European competition. Traffic attracts traffic. I am, however, a little more worried about airports in the Gulf region like Dubai or Abu Dhabi for example.
You offer casinos, sex shops, fast food and gourmet dining along with shopping at FRAPORT. Transfer times do not get boring.
Yes, this makes transiting at our airport enjoyable. Of course the most important is that flights are on time and connections are smooth. Once we fulfill this basic service requirement, we can top a positive airport experience and offer world class shopping, dining, and entertainment. We realize FRAPORT may not be as advanced as some Asian airports –but we’re working on it.
Our two luxury airport hotels the Sheraton and Hilton have top facilities, and meeting capacities – all under our roof.
What about noise, your airport is closed at night?
Of course we would love to operate 24/7, but we realize our location is in a highly dense residential and business region of Germany and not in a desert. We need to consider the needs of our citizens living around us. Our airport is closed from 11pm to 6am and that is sometimes a challenge.
Biodiversity is important to us and our planning. We plant trees, recycle water for our toilets. We are the first airport with CO2 [Carbon Dioxide] certification, use mostly electric cars – and encourage environmental friendly aircrafts to fly here.
How about freight operations?
Freight and our state of the art facilities enjoy a positive development. This part of our business is growing even more than passenger business.
Is there anything else you like to mention?
We’re proud of what we achieved at FRAPORT and I like to mention our incentive program for airlines to consider Frankfurt. The Frankfurt International Airport is truly a world class facility and has an unmatched safety record without having to give in on efficiency and a clear focus on environment friendly operations.