ERKAN PINAR MUNICH Munich Airport's new terminal could become the blueprint for terminals developed in partnership - between airports and airlines - for alliance operations

It is not even built yet, but the new Terminal 2 (T2) of Munich's Franz Josef Strauss Airport is already attracting considerable interest. The project is a joint venture between airport operator FMG and Lufthansa. It is described as a "European first" - the first airport terminal to be jointly planned, built and operated by an airport and an airline, says Peter Trautmann, vice-president operations at Munich Airport

Costing $1.1 billion, the new terminal will have an area of about 260,000m2 (2,800,000ft2), 120 gates, 78 new parking positions on the ramp - 28 of which are at the terminal, over 180 new desks for check-in, ticketing and transfer, and a total capacity in the first phase of about 20 million passengers. Bearing in mind the spacious planning of Terminal 1 (T1), where the declared annual maximum was 16 million passengers and with almost 22 million still looks empty, 25 million travellers a year in T2 may hardly be noticed.

Moving boldly

Trautmann sees the Lufthansa link-up as a bold move: "We are doing what others don't dare to do, or don't want to do. We have been talking to Lufthansa from the very beginning." The co-operation began with a 1998 memorandum of understanding (MoU) forming the basis of the project. Experts from Lufthansa and the FMG have since worked to ensure that it meets all their needs, however extreme.

"When we built T1 we felt that the modular approach would be good. It still is and works fine, but Lufthansa needed something different for its hubbing requirements. So we abandoned the modular design and this time have everything assembled in a large main hall. Then we have a long pier with about 28 parking positions and 120 gates. Like Atlanta and the planned Terminal 5 in London Heathrow, we can add linear parallel piers as and when we need them - we have enough space.'

Star terminal

Perhaps more important is the fact that this will be an exclusive mini-airport for Lufthansa and its airline partners - effectively a StarHub. This is a world first. Apart from the initial investment for the new terminal, Lufthansa is investing a similar amount again, to shore up its future hub operations from Munich. Space is running out in Frankfurt, and a second hub is seen as vital for the airline's future success.

However, the inclusion of its airline partners will also be vital to its success. This will not be an easy task because the two co-owners are keen to have their respective corporate identities at the terminal. It follows that there will be a combination of these two schemes with that of the Star Alliance scheme. This looks to be insufficient, as everybody is supposedly equal and will want to see their colour scheme included in the overall terminal layout. Whatever happens, the traveller will have a clear choice: the StarHub for Lufthansa and its partners, or T1 for all others.

The remaining airlines in T1 will want their spaces redefined and redistributed too. What Lufthansa and Star can do in T2, oneworld, SkyTeam, Qualiflyer, and others could do in their respective new zones in T1. Trautmann feels that the modular design of T1 is positive in this respect, as the separate parts of the kilometre-long terminus can function excellently as separate alliance identities.

Sophisticated players such as BA, KLM, the SAirGroup and SkyTeam are likely to jump at the idea. However, FMG wants to maintain its own corporate identity and will have to limit the overpowering presence of the alliances because there are still carriers that want to maintain their own identities. There are also more alliances than modules at T1. The number of independent airlines has historically been very high in Munich and Trautmann wants to keep it that way.

Trautmann is not too worried about the competition. Zurich, the closest hub airport to Munich after Frankfurt, is behind in passenger numbers and has had slower growth in recent years. Lufthansa is the third largest carrier at Zurich with about 6.5% of traffic. Taking all Star members together, this figure is nearer 10%. However, Zurich has many more intercontinental destinations. The StarHub is going to change that in Munich.


South of the Alps is Milan with its two airports Linate and Malpensa. Munich to Milan has always been a high yield route, but now Milan has its own new facilities at Malpensa and Alitalia is trying to woo transfer traffic. However, there have been well documented problems with the transfer of traffic from Linate to Malpensa, an issue still under investigation by Brussels.

Since the opening up of the former eastern bloc and the signing of new bilaterals, traffic to Eastern Europe has changed and the traditional east-west gateway Vienna has lost some of its traffic to new point-to-point services. It is now mainly an Austrian gateway and is one of the few airports where one alliance - the Star alliance in this case - has almost two-thirds of traffic.

Munich's T2 is due to open in 2003, giving Lufthansa, its Star alliance and FMG enough space and scope to grow and develop. and potentially creating the model for other airline alliance dominated terminals to follow.

Source: Airline Business