API magazine
October 1, 2020

Our magazine spoke to Dr Ralf Gaffal, MD of Munich Airport International (MAI), which is bringing expertise from Bavaria to airports all around the globe.

Dr Gaffal, when did Munich Airport decide it wanted to go international?

Dr Gaffal: I believe the key moment was when, in May 1992, Munich Airport transferred operations seamlessly in just one night from Riem to its current location. Thanks to this success and our associated reputation for organizational talent, we soon received requests from all over the world: Other airports were asking Munich Airport for help in planning a transfer or new opening. Over the course of the last 27 years, we have been providing further transfer and opening management services to dozens of airports, and have managed to expand our portfolio with full airport lifecycle services including, airport planning and design, project management, commercial development, process reengineering, passenger experience, profit and revenue optimization, advanced operational readiness, business continuity management, tailor-made training services, and comprehensive airport management. In addition to airports, customers also include airlines, ground handlers, logistic companies and infrastructure investors. In 2017, the subsidiary Munich Airport International (MAI) was established to expand Munich Airport´s international business even further. Up until now, MAI´s references include signatory projects in more than 30 countries, ranging from consulting through to training, management and operation.

Mr Gaffal, what team do you have available to support airports?

Fortunately we count on close to 100 multicultural / multilingual experts for our projects overseas who are part of MAI and Munich Airport. We invest in the development of soft skills and technical capabilities for ensuring adaptation of our experts to cultures and delivery of quality services.

Mr Gaffal, can you explain a bit more about MAI’s offering?

Dr Gaffal: MAI’s offering focuses on consulting, management and training services.

We are the global market leader in the activation of airports, the so-called Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer (ORAT). We have over 30 ORAT project references, including all types of airports, e.g. hubs, regionals, 5-star airports and niche airports. Moreover, we provide full airport lifecycle consulting, training and management services, including the development and implementation of concepts of operations, commercial concepts, wow factor and passenger experience strategies, masterplans, and all sorts of operational checks and improvement measures. We have become an active partner of investment companies - providing bid advisory, management and operation services for new as well as operating airport assets.

As Munich Airport handles all airport-related services in-house, e.g. passenger, cargo and ground handling, retail, food and beverage, duty free and hotel, we know how to reach a high quality level across all areas at first hand. This know-how combined with the decades of experience as an airport operator also enables us to bring our collective expertise to the table when we take over the management of terminals or airports.

Last but not least, we provide in-depth training across all levels. We organize standardized and, on request, customized training on all topics related to the operation of an airport. These courses can either take place at our Munich Airport Academy or on site at the relevant airports.

One of the big announcements last year was your role in the JV in the US with The Carlyle Airport Group to build out a joint approach for the American market. Can you explain more?

Dr Gaffal: Together with the US-based CAG Holdings, a subsidiary of the global financial investor The Carlyle Group, MAI established a joint venture in 2019 for the North American market: Reach Airports. The combination of CAG's many years of investor experience and the operational management expertise of MAI won a large and important project right from the start of their undertaking. In the next few years, JFK Airport in New York City is building a new Terminal One for around seven billion US dollars. As part of a consortium, Reach Airports will act as a consultant during the planning and construction phase, and then take over the operational management of the former and the new Terminal One.

Is the intention to go for more such operational agreements beyond the agreement with CAG? What about the rest of the world?

In addition to further activities in the US, we want to increase and strengthen our presence in promising growth markets. We plan to expand our international footprint by opening regional sales offices, entering new strategic joint ventures, taking on more operational agreements and acquiring airport-related consultancy firms in our key regions. Our goal is to deliver 5-star services, not only in Munich at our home base, but also when we are invited to provide our knowledge and services across the world.