Lead Interviews Articles

  • “We’ll have to walk and talk as we’re especially busy today,” explained Toland on the day of our interview. “I want us to do better. We’re obviously not where we planned to be seven or eight years ago. But we now have a clear strategy and a set of goals appropriate to our circumstances – in Dublin the near term objective is 25 million passengers by end-2017.”

    “There is no captive customer, in either fast-moving consumer foods or airports”

    Kevin Toland (47) became Chief Executive of DAA, the Dublin and Cork airport operator, in January 2013 after spending a quarter-century in consumer foods – the last decade as the CEO of Glanbia USA, a dominating force in the manufacture and supply of processed products in the giant North American foods industry. Previously, Toland held senior executive positions in Coca-Cola Russia and with Grand Metropolitan in Ireland and Central Europe. DAA is his first job in air transport.

  • Al Baker: “Our entry into the oneworld Alliance and the opening of Hamad International Airport will revolutionise our capacity to bring international business to Doha’s doorstep.”

    The man changing your perception of the airline, the airport & Qatar

    The story of Qatari aviation is one of vibrant growth and development, built on a philosophy of superior service and quality. It is the perfect example of a fully-formed strategy, which places aviation at the
    heart of the nation’s desire for growth. Spearheading this growth is Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Doha International Airport and Qatar Airways, and a ubiquitous business ambassador for his country. He outlined his clearly defined vision to Ross Falconer.

  • Woldbye: “If you look at social media, e-commerce and m-commerce, they are taking off dramatically. Around 20% of our tax free turnover is pre-ordered on the web, and interestingly, people ordering online spend more than those shopping in-store, which shows how airport retail is competing with the high street and also with the internet.”

    Danes developing cutting-edge gateway to northern Europe

    For the perfect example of a forward-thinking airport, with innovation and the passenger experience at the heart of its strategy, look no further than Copenhagen Airports. Its CEO Thomas Woldbye outlined his clear vision for a ‘World Class Hub’ to Ross Falconer.

  • Martín, Bessard and Laukenmann spoke passionately about working in the airport sector; they each demonstrated a forward-thinking vision and the ability to develop dynamic business plans.

    Dynamic young executives at the heart of the airport business

    One of the ways in which the vibrant, exciting nature of the airport industry is best illustrated is by the people working within it. The dynamic young executives at the heart of many of Europe’s airports are testament to the attractiveness of the sector as a stimulating career choice. Ross Falconer spoke with three senior executives – all aged under 40 – from different European airports to obtain their fresh perspectives on the industry.

  • Cornish: “Over the last two years we’ve grown market share and have outperformed the average growth in the UK airport sector.”

    Stansted acquisition enhances strong MAG portfolio

    Manchester Airports Group (MAG) owns and operates four UK airports – Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth, and now London-Stansted following the recently completed £1.5 billion (€1.8bn) acquisition. The newly expanded group serves 44 million annual passengers and has an ambitious strategy for continued profitable growth, as its CEO Charlie Cornish explained to Ross Falconer.

  • Simpson: “The European Parliament has been the biggest supporter of liberalisation and remains the biggest advocate of the Single European Sky.”

    Airports essential to economic recovery and social cohesion

    Brian Simpson MEP is a long-standing member of the European Parliament Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and has been its Chair since 2009. In a very timely interview, he spoke to Airport Business shortly after the Committee had voted on the ‘Airport Package’ – a process which, significantly, saw it reject the proposed new rules on ground handling. Ross Falconer reports.

  • Lammers: “It was no secret that Malév had been weak for several years, especially during the winter season. So when it happened, we were well prepared to immediately get in touch with other business partners – both existing  and new.”

    Budapest Airport: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

    Hungary’s largest international airport has become accustomed to the limelight over the past 7 years, since it was originally privatised. It has become a by-word in the airport business for fresh thinking and innovation, not least due to its award winning strategy for attracting airlines. 2012 got off to a very difficult start, with the loss of its home carrier, but Budapest Airport is fighting fit. Jost Lammers, CEO, Budapest Airport, outlined his strategy to Ross Falconer.

  • Vargas Gómez: “We are completing an Airport Efficiency Master Plan, which aims to improve the profitability of the 19 airports in our network with less than 500,000 passengers per year by implementing measures such as flexibility, keeping multi-role staff and reducing costs.”

    Aena Aeropuertos’ bullish focus on efficiency

    Aena Aeropuertos is the world’s largest airport operator, managing 47 airports and two heliports in Spain. It also has interests in 26 airports internationally. The portfolio of 47 Spanish airports handled more than 200 million passengers in 2011, registering overall growth of +6% – a notable achievement against the current economic backdrop. José Manuel Vargas Gómez was appointed President & CEO of Aena in January 2012. He outlined his strategy to Ross Falconer.

  • Power to the regions!

    Power to the regions!

    ACI EUROPE’s Regional Airports’ Forum currently represents more than 350 airport members and it is entirely focused on the key issues for regional airports. Ross Falconer sat down with Thomas Langeland, Airport Director, Kristiansand Airport and Vice-Chair of the Regional Airports’ Forum; Armando Brunini, Managing Director, Bologna Airport; Robert Sinclair, CEO, Bristol Airport; and Jean-Michel Vernhes, Chairman of the Executive Board, Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, to talk through some of these issues ahead of the 5th ACI EUROPE Regional Airports’ Conference & Exhibition in Ljubljana.

  • Kallas is supportive of ACI EUROPE’s programme Airport Carbon Accreditation and its “crucial role in helping to move European aviation onto a more sustainable footing”. Indeed, he has participated in the certification ceremonies for Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Brussels and Budapest airports.

    Kallas focused on Single European Sky and airport capacity challenge

    Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President Responsible for Transport, assumed his current portfolio in February 2010, succeeding Antonio Tajani. He spoke to Airport Business about a range of issues, including the forthcoming Airport Package, capacity in the air and on the ground, the Single European Sky and aviation liberalisation. Ross Falconer reports.

  • Jordanian Minister of Tourism Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh receives a gift from easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall at the launch of services from London Gatwick to Amman in March.

    Primary airports provide easyJet platform for future expansion

    Carrying more than 50 million passengers per year, easyJet is the UK’s largest airline and Europe’s fourth largest. Carolyn McCall became easyJet CEO on 1 July 2010. In a wide-ranging interview, following her keynote speech at this year’s ACI EUROPE Annual Congress, she expanded on subjects including her strategic vision for the future of the airline, aviation taxation and the airport-airline relationship. Ross Falconer reports.

  • Schulte: “Today, Fraport is a very strong company and our FRA home base is well positioned, with new capacity coming on stream to take advantage of fresh growth coming after the recent global financial and economic crisis. Our development of FRA and Fraport as a diversified business with aeronautical and non-aeronautical business pillars has been important, too.”

    Fraport invests in future as it celebrates 75 years

    Frankfurt Airport is Germany’s busiest airport and is among the world’s top 10 hubs. The airport celebrates its 75th anniversary this year – a year in which it will also, significantly, open the new Runway Northwest. Fraport is investing €7 billion in Frankfurt Airport in the period from 2007 to 2015 to sustain an ambitious strategy, as Dr Stefan Schulte, Chairman of the Executive Board, Fraport AG, explained to Ross Falconer.

  • Rutten stressed that capacity is a high priority in terms of both runways and terminal infrastructure. ACI EUROPE has long warned that Europe is facing an airport capacity crunch, with air traffic forecast to double by 2030. “This is an issue that requires a lot of investment,” said Rutten.

    Schiphol innovating to ensure sustainable growth

    The Schiphol story is one of success driven by innovation. The oldest airport in Europe, the fifth busiest airport in Europe and an important engine for the Dutch economy, Schiphol contributes around 1.5% of GDP. Ad Rutten, Executive Vice President & COO Schiphol Group, is in his second term as ACI EUROPE President. He spoke to Ross Falconer about the continuing evolution of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the challenges and opportunities facing Europe’s airports.

  • Chetkovich: “We have developed a new vision and values, and have introduced changes in Swedavia’s corporate culture. We have also started changes related to our brand – we shall connect our airports more closely to Swedavia, developing Swedavia into one entity.”

    Swedavia, airport innovator and a rising Scandinavian brand

    The division of the LFV Group was formalised on 1 April and has created two strong organisations with the aim of further developing the Swedish aviation sector. The newly established Swedavia manages, develops and promotes the 13 state-owned airports (three of which are in the process of being sold), while LFV is responsible for air navigation services. Torborg Chetkovich, Swedavia’s new CEO, outlined the airport operator’s vision to Ross Falconer.

  • Sener: "The strategy is always to be in emerging markets where there is significant room for growth. We are seeking airports in markets where there is scope for substantial development and growth."

    TAV Airports’ vision for 100 million passengers

    The original goal of TAV Airports Holding was to operate 10 airports within 10 years, firmly establishing itself as the regional leader. Having achieved that objective, as Macedonia started operations in March 2010, its next target is to serve 100 million passengers annually by 2017. Sani Sener, President and CEO, outlined the TAV Airports strategic vision to Ross Falconer. Additional reporting by Robert O’Meara.

  • Palenzona and Bonomi believe that the common strategy objectives of AdR and SEA are best achieved by “working in a system”. Importantly, they emphasise that Rome and Milan are complementary systems that are not in competition with one another.

    Visionary AdR-SEA collaboration to boost Italy’s competitiveness

    SEA Aeroporti di Milano and Aeroporti di Roma came together in October 2009, with the key objective to boost Italy’s economic growth. This goal will be driven by a period of collaboration that will provide significant new infrastructure. Ross Falconer spoke with Fabrizio Palenzona, chairman of assaeroporti, the Italian airport association and Chairman, Aeroporti di Roma and Giuseppe Bonomi, President and CEO, SEA Aeroporti di Milano.

  • Wingate: “I am optimistic for Gatwick now that we are free to operate. I see huge opportunities.”

    Gatwick sets out competitive vision

    Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) formally completed the £1.5 billion (€1.65bn) acquisition of London-Gatwick Airport in December 2009, with the promise of a new era of competition between London’s airports, more efficient operations and a better passenger experience. Stewart Wingate, the newly-appointed CEO, outlined the airport’s strategy to Ross Falconer.

  • “We have achieved very good results from the commercial activities in mp2, such as travel value retail, F&B and car hire,” said Regis. Average per passenger spend at mp2 is €1 less than at mp1, which has a higher proportion of business travellers with more propensity to spend.

    Low-cost terminal the growth engine for Marseille-Provence

    The airport of Marseille-Provence, France’s third busiest airport outside Paris, is a notable success story amidst the current economic climate. While accumulated passenger traffic across Europe declined by -7.7% for the first nine months of the year, Marseille-Provence airport saw a +3.9% increase to almost five million passengers. The development of mp2, the airport’s low-cost terminal, is largely responsible for this success, as Pierre Regis, CEO, explained to Ross Falconer.

  • Dr Yiannis Paraschis, outgoing President of ACI EUROPE and Director General Olivier Jankovec, with the representatives of each of the airports participating in Airport Carbon Accreditation. At launch, the scheme received commitments from 33 airports in 11 countries, accounting for 26% of European airport traffic.

    Reduction of Carbon Emissions

    On 16 June, ACI EUROPE launched Airport Carbon Accreditation at its Annual Assembly in Manchester. Upon launch, the scheme secured more than 30 participating airports, representing 26% of European passenger traffic – a testament to how seriously European airports are responding to the issue of Climate Change, even in the midst of the worst trading conditions that the sector has ever seen.
    Ross Falconer reports.

  • Collier: “One of the striking factors of the downturn is that it has been so swift – the operating environment has changed in an unprecedented way.”

    DAA reducing costs and driving revenues

    Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is responsible for the management, operation and development of Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. The airports are of key strategic importance to the exporting economy of Ireland and despite the severe effects of the economic downturn, DAA is pressing ahead with an ambitious capital investment programme. Declan Collier, Chief Executive, outlined the company’s strategy to Ross Falconer.

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