Thomas Torsten-Meyer charts the rise of a small regional carrier as a key player in Munich’s central European hub business model
Munich airport and two carriers – Air Dolomiti and German Lufthansa – are working together to maintain the airport’s central European aviation HUB status. It has not been easy to evolve and cement Munich’s aviation position, because aviation developments and competition around Munich airport is a challenge at times. The airport handles most ground activities for both airlines – Lufthansa and Air Dolomiti.
Air Dolomiti is a small airline combining Italian charisma with German precision. The airline has always operated with close connections to German Lufthansa and Munich airport. Air Dolomiti started their operations 1991 in the regional air transport segment and became one of the new ambassadors of Italian spirit and style in the central European sky. Air Dolomiti aircraft were mainly flying from Verona and Venice to Germany. So it made sense for German Lufthansa to be interested in the airline. The start for that new partnership began in 1994. In 1999 Lufthansa took a 26% share in the carrier after some very challenging efforts to install an economical and flexible Lufthansa air transport project for Italy. After that initial fruitful partnership between Lufthansa and Air Dolomiti, Lufthansa acquired 100% of the carrier in 2003. From that time Air Dolomiti has become strongly connected to German Lufthansa and Munich airport. Primarily, it has become the German Lufthansa main feeder carrier from Italy as the third main action jet carrier. In this way Air Dolomiti has transformed itself from a small regional airline (55 aircraft seats offered) into a strong jet-carrier (120 aircraft seats offered).
Air Dolomiti connects presently main Italian airports to Munich airport with approximately 460 flights a week. The business model combines feeder activities to the German Lufthansa Hubs in Munich and Frankfurt with its own business connections. Verona is the operational and administrative headquarters of the airline.
Market and strategies
Air Dolomiti is part of the German Lufthansa Group which connects most economically strategic Italian regions. Air Dolomiti handles107 starts per week at its own risk and responsibility to/from: Florence, Venice, Verona, Bari, Milano-Bergamo and Bologna. Some 120 Air Dolomiti flights are handled on behalf of German Lufthansa to/from Milano-Malpensa, Pisa, Palermo, Catania and Turin. The airline applies a global marketing strategy, targeting particularly business customers. Quality for Air Dolomiti means frequency of flights, regularity and punctuality (at MUC its punctuality is 86% – less than 15 min. – remarkably high for hub-feeding operations). Together with a high reputation for in-flight hospitality, these are the features that cemented Air Dolomiti’s brand. We all know that the market place has rapidly changed with the arrival of low cost airlines. Air Dolomiti is a prime example for a new business model. A smart Italian Airline is feeding German Lufthansa’s secondary main HUB at Munich airport with only 10 Embraer 195 (120 seats). To date Air Dolomiti has flown 17.6 Million passengers from/ to Munich Airport with 420 000 flights. Through hospitality, flexibility and distinguished service the airline contributes considerably to the success of German Lufthansa and Munich airport.
Munich airport facts and figures
Munich airport started operations in 1949 after WW II. Today the maib airport company operates and controls a total of 12 subsidiary companies. The state of Bavaria holds a 51% share in the airport. The remaining holding is split between the state of Germany (26%) and the town of Munich (23%). More than 33 000 people work at the airport for 550 different companies. Lufthansa employs 10,600 and 8,000 employees from the airport company Flughafen München GmbH are working at Munich. So the airport is one of the largest employers in the state of Bavaria. Munich Airport with around 80 airlines, connects 38.7 million passengers around the world. The average loading factor at MUC has risen another 0.7 % to 75.2 %. This is the best loading factor since MUC started the operation in 1992. MUC facilitated 382,000 take-offs and landings in 2013. That was 4% less than 2012. The reason for this decrease in numbers is the change of airline fleets to bigger aircraft sizes. The stabilising element for Munich’s business model is the so called Hub-factor. That means MUC is connecting 40% transit passengers. With 38.9 million MUC passenger transits the airport climbed to number seven in the international airport ranking in Europe, and number 30 in the world. MUC connects to 229 destinations in 63 countries. Last but not least MUC has been voted on seven different occasions the best European airport. It has also been ranked number three and worldwide number 3 airport. This ranking is based on a Skytrax-questionnaire from 13 Million passengers.