What do business travellers on the move particularly value and what role do they play as a target group at Albrecht Dürer Airport Nuremberg? Questions for Jürgen Kohstall, Head of Marketing & Corporate Communications at the Franconian airport.
In conversation with Jürgen Kohstall
Jürgen Kohstall not only frequently goes on business trips himself and therefore knows which services business travellers particularly appreciate on business trips. In his position as Head of Marketing & Corporate Communications at Albrecht Dürer Airport Nuremberg, he gets to look behind the scenes every day.
Infrastructure as the USP of the MICE destination Bavaria
Mr. Kohstall, what do you think makes Bavaria attractive as a MICE destination?
There are several reasons in favour of Bavaria. On the one hand, the very well-developed transport infrastructure combined with a particularly hospitable environment, the Bavarian attitude to life and our positive welcoming culture. On the other hand, our internationally well-connected economy and science, which offer platforms for the exchange of know-how and innovations.
How high is the share of business travellers in the travel volume of Nuremberg Airport?
There are still no current figures on this, because the travel volume changed dynamically with the pandemic situation, and business travel is still more restrained than the other segments. Before covid, the share of business travellers in hotel occupancy in Nuremberg was about 70 per cent, which is also reflected at Nuremberg Airport during trade fairs and shows how important we are for business travellers.
Nuremberg Airport has received the Business Traveller Award several times, what is special about this airport?
Albrecht Dürer Airport Nuremberg has a unique selling point as a city airport. Business travellers appreciate the excellent transport connections. You can be in the city in 12 minutes by underground, the driverless underground to the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre takes only 25 minutes and we are only 6 kilometres from the A3 highway.
Which services do business travellers particularly appreciate?
Business travellers appreciate a well-developed infrastructure as well as high service standards.
They like the very short distances within a site, the fast central security check and the easy navigation within the airport. Business travellers appreciate high service standards, including the very fast baggage return. In our case, the first piece of luggage is on the conveyor belt on average 7 minutes after the aircraft has docked. Business facilities such as a large lounge, a separate, free business area with meeting places and the option of valet parking at "ParkenPlus" to leave your own car before you reach the car park are also used. Last but not least, a high-performance, free wifi network is standard.
To what extent do business travellers use public transport from the airport?
There are of course business travellers who arrive or depart by car or taxi, but many trade fair visitors use public transport. This is not only less complicated, but also more ecological, cheaper and usually faster than travelling by car.
The challenges posed by the pandemic
What challenges did the pandemic bring?
The pandemic was a real balancing act for us. On the one hand, we had to react very quickly with short-time work in order to keep a large part of the staff, but at the same time we had to guarantee 24-hour operations, because there was still cargo, general aviation and special flights. We also had to develop prospects for the time after the pandemic, stay in close contact with the airlines and partners on the ground, in order to be able to start again together with an attractive offer after the pandemic.
What are the challenges at this stage of the pandemic?
The rapid ramp-up of our entire airport infrastructure is a real challenge. In the 2022 summer timetable, we will be back at the same level as in 2019 at some points, but over the year as a whole, the load factor still fluctuates greatly due to the pandemic. These ups and downs have to be organised and managed. It is a challenge to recruit staff quickly, especially in the operational area, to train them, and to deploy them in the right teams, also against the background of the shortage of skilled workers. The fact is that this shortage will remain with us for the time being after the pandemic, not only for us but also for our partners, e.g. at the security checkpoint or in the catering sector. In marketing, it is a matter of fast, cross-media market penetration in order to successfully introduce the new flight offers.
How can passengers' trust in air travel, which was lost due to covid, be regained?
The pandemic was a real balancing act for us.
It is particularly important that the services function in an uncomplicated and flawless manner, that sufficient clearances are possible and that there are short waiting times at the respective service stations. There must also be internationally coordinated, clearly defined regulations. In the course of the pandemic, we have further optimised our services in cooperation with the airlines.
Innovation & infrastructure in Bavaria
In which infrastructural areas do you think Bavaria is already well positioned? And where do you see particular innovation?
Bavaria is already well positioned in terms of transport infrastructure. I see particular innovations in our field, for example, in companies like "Lilium", which is developing pioneering electric aircraft in Bavaria and with the support of the State of Bavaria.
The topic of sustainability is also becoming increasingly important. What measures is Nuremberg Airport taking to reduce CO2 and what is planned for the future?
We have been implementing the "Road to 2045" programme for some time now. By then at the latest, we want to be CO2-neutral. We obtain heat from a neighbouring wood chip plant, use green electricity, we have a concept for the entire energy management and, among other things, we are installing new energy-saving lighting systems. In addition, we are maintaining the compensation areas, renaturalising and expanding our apron electric fleet. Another important step is the planned photovoltaic system on our new P4 multi-storey car park, which will be the largest to date.
The airport as an event location
What makes an airport interesting as an event location?
There is the fascination of air traffic, the possibility of being close to modern aircraft technology, there are the thoughts and dreams of distant countries and cultures, the fantasy of getting on a plane and flying to see the world, even if, of course, these are only dreams at the events. But this freedom, this possibility, that still inspires people at events at the airport.
Which event at Nuremberg Airport do you have particularly fond memories of?
The public viewings during the World Cup and European Football Championship on a specially developed outdoor parking area at Nuremberg Airport were outstanding. We had up to 20,000 visitors. With long-standing partners we have established the airport as an event location. We are used to handling large numbers of people.
Bavaria as a holiday and recreation destination
Leisure tips from Jürgen Kohstall
A balmy summer evening in one of Bamberg's beer cellars, as the beer gardens are called there, with regional specialities and a view over the old town roofs and church towers.
For those who love being active, I recommend a bike tour in the Nuremberg countryside and hikes in beautiful Hersbruck or Franconian Switzerland. There is an incredibly wide choice.