Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Wed May 27 2015

Munich Airport Tops Out in Europe

Airlines & Airports | James Ruggia | May 27, 2015

Munich Airport Tops Out in Europe

Looking at it one way Germany is a land of contending airports. Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart all serve different functions and all are gateways to very different regions. This past week Munich Airport won Skytrax Institute’s designation of “Five Star Airport;” the first European airport to win the award, which it first corralled in 2014. Munich also held onto its ranking as Europe’s top airport and the third best in the world (Singapore’s Changi and Seoul’s Incheon were first and second) in the 2015 World Airport Awards. The best-ranked U.S. airport was Cincinnati at No. 30, a sad testament to the country’s commitment to maintaining its infrastructure, but I digress; this is a German story.

To compile its annual ranking, Skytrax measures the quality of service, overall experience and the efficiency of the handling processes. Skytrax also weighed the opinions of the 13 million passengers it surveyed for the awards. It was the eighth time in 10 years that Munich was named the Best Airport in Europe. Until Munich attained five-star status last year, only airports (Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokio-Haneda) were rated that highly.

PHOTO: Dr. Michael Kerkloh, the President and CEO of FMG, accepts Skytrax award. (Courtesy of Munich Airport)

Munich Airport credits the comprehensive quality campaign it launched in 2013 for the achievement. The campaign looked at ambiance and comfort, services and amenities, processes, ease of transit and friendliness. To earn five-star status, an airport must present a seamless high-quality experience along the entire travel chain.

The criteria range from clear signage and navigation to outstanding service, attractive shopping and dining, cleanliness and a modern ambiance. Munich upgraded the seating and added USB outlets for mobile devices. Altogether the airport features 70 InfoGate terminals, with information on flights, navigation in the airport, shopping options and other services all available by touchscreen.

Total passenger traffic rose by nearly 3 percent to 39.7 million in 2014. About half of the increase can be attributed to the new long-haul services to Houston, Mexico City and Miami. To cope with traffic growth in the coming years, the airport and Lufthansa are building a satellite terminal on the eastern apron with a capacity of 11 million passengers per year. The facility is due to be completed by autumn. The airport now offers connections to more than 200 destinations around the world.

The airport also deserves credit for its treatment of the airport space as more than a logistic passageway. In April, for instance, they set up tennis courts between its two terminals for fans to test their skills in the lead-up to the 2015 BMW Open. The temporary facility offered tennis camps for kids, open court time for adults and a chance to watch ranked tennis players compete in matches. Each Advent Season it opens up a Christmas Market

On a more permanent level, the airport added an area with plants, subdued lighting and a 600-book library to Terminal Two. The reading area creates an atmosphere conducive to rest and relaxation. Monitors are positioned to make it easy to keep an eye on flight status. Located next to gates G 43/44, the area features 28 comfortable places to sit or stretch out and 16 business stations equipped with their own power outlets for laptops, phones or tablets as well as the exclusive reading area.

PHOTO: A new 600-book library with softer lighting helps make Munich’s Airport a more relaxed environment. (Courtesy of Munich Airport)

Among the airport’s more than 200 shops and restaurants is a brewery/beer garden. It’s also a leader in handling ecological issues such as aircraft noise, air management, energy, waste and water management to minimize damage to ecosystem of the region.


Last year, Düsseldorf Airport set a record with 21.8 million passengers, the fifth consecutive year of new passenger records. It also recorded a 24 percent profit increase from €34.5 to €42.9 million while revenue decreased from €429.2 million to €425.6 million. It’s an incredibly convenient airport because it has just one terminal and so it’s always a short distances to the connecting flight. The airport is also home to more than 100 shops, bars, and restaurants, open 365 days a week.

The airport offers more than 110 weekly intercontinental flights in addition to an extensive network of domestic and European flights. The arrival of Air Berlin in 2007 after the purchase of LTU seemed to elevate the airport into more of an international gate for the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany with a potential catchment area of about 18 million inhabitants. Düsseldorf is connected to Atlanta, Chicago, Ft. Myers, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Newark with non-stop flights. It’s also connected to 125 European destinations. The largest airlines at DUS are Air Berlin and Lufthansa.  American Airlines offers daily flights to Chicago (ORD) and Delta Airlines daily flights to Atlanta (ATL).

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