Airside Winter 2019

The airport industry gathers in Munich

The inter airport Europe event in Bavaria in October was the latest iteration of the world’s biggest airport show, where the great and the good of the industry come together. Of course, Airside International was there

This year’s inter airport exhibition was the 22nd time that this show has taken place (the first event was held back in 1977), and it was bigger than ever. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nicola Hamann – managing director of exhibition organiser Mack Brooks ­– confirmed that at 33,550 square metres, this year’s footprint was up 5.5% on its predecessor two years ago. Likewise, with 659 exhibitors from 40 countries, exhibitor numbers were also up.

During the four exhibition days, a total of 14,962 trade visitors from 108 countries roamed the inside and outside areas of the Munich Trade Fair site. This represented an 8% increase in visitor numbers compared to the previous show in 2017.

Away from the exhibition booths, a new digitalisation seminar put a focus on topics of particular interest to the airport industry today. Each day of the event was dedicated to a different topic. Tuesday concerned itself with airport IT and the systems and innovations pertaining to day-to-day operations, while Wednesday brought presentations on airport development and design, and Thursday’s theme was IT developments in airside technology. On Friday, the main focus was drones and unmanned vehicles as they might relate to airport operations.

“The world’s leading event for the international airport community”, is how Hamann described the show at the opening ceremony, and it is difficult to disagree. Taking place in what is currently a very challenging operating environment ­– she pointed to such issues as the prevailing feeling of uncertainty in the global economy as well as the fast-changing technological background to the industry– the focus of this year’s event was ‘Connecting Future Airports’.

Every forecast suggests that passenger numbers will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, despite the challenges of the current operating environment, Hamann noted, and airports will have to find ways of delivering the additional capacity required. Improving airport connectivity through greater digitalisation will be key, she observed.

Michael Kerkloh, who followed Hamann to the speaker’s podium at inter airport’s opening ceremony, added to her comments about that challenging backdrop. The current managing director of Munich Airport (though he is to resign from that position at the end of this year) observed that the rapid expansion in numbers of the world’s better-off will undoubtedly also lead to much higher numbers of international air passengers, and airports will have to find ways of coping with this.

A gateway like Munich itself, of course, has grown hugely over the years, just as has its operating company of which Kerkloh is the current head, but space is limited and new efficiencies will have to be implemented. Growth in the aviation sector has come alongside globalisation and new technologies like digitalisation, so it was entirely appropriate that networking airports was a focus of the show, he opined.

The networking of airports is, of course, not something new, Kerkloh continued. In fact, it has always been vital to airport business. What has changed, he observed, is the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the networked air gateway community. Digitalisation of real-time communications has facilitated significant advances in airport operating efficiency and it will continue to do so, Kerkloh added.

The final speaker at the opening ceremony was Kay Bärenfänger, president of German Airport Technology & Equipment, better known as GATE, the unifying alliance of German airport suppliers.

Bärenfänger spoke about the future demands of the airport industry: such as sustainability, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving.

He also suggested that alongside the ongoing exponential increase in flying passenger numbers is a change in what those passengers expect from airport services. At GATE, he said that the group’s members offer insight into how those demands are changing and he was happy to have the opportunity to pass that information on to those he would be meeting at inter airport.

The opening ceremony concluded with an announcement of the winners of this year’s inter airport Excellence Awards. The winners, across five categories, are decided by an online vote. The winning companies and their products in each category were:

interTERMINAL: Sym3 Operator from the UK’s Daifuku Airport Technologies

Sym3 Operator offers a 3D rendering of an airport’s baggage handling system. Especially notably, Sym3 gives users the ability to view and access data on any device via a web interface.

interDATA: ISAC from Alpha-CIM of France

ISAC is a stop bar and lead-on control system benefiting from fibre optic technology. It is said to bring responsiveness and reliability, with excellent response times and ease of implementation.

interRAMP: Linde Safety Guard from Linde Material Handling of Germany

The Linde Safety Guard detects other vehicles or pedestrians before any collision can take place. It can automatically reduce the speed of a vehicle equipped with it in advance of any impact. Active alarms triggered by hazards enable operators and pedestrians to react immediately.

interDESIGN: Air5 from VRR of the Netherlands

The inflatable Air5, which weighs approximately 68kg (150lbs), folds out automatically and takes shape in just 30 seconds using air pressure to inflate the container. To collapse the container, air is released, which takes just two people and one minute. More details on this product, and on VRR’s other offerings at the show, can be found later in this issue of Airside.

interFUTURE: BAGFLOW from Vanderlande of the Netherlands

The BAGFLOW end-to-end baggage logistics solution takes in a complete journey of a piece of luggage from the moment it is handed over by the passenger to the point where it is loaded onto an aircraft. It makes use of innovations in autonomous vehicle technology, artificial intelligence and predictive data analytics. More details on this product, and on Vanderlande’s other offerings at the show, can be found later in this issue of Airside.

The next inter airport Europe, the 23rd International Exhibition for Airport Equipment, Technology, Design & Services, is scheduled to take place from 5 to 8 October 2021, once again at the Munich Trade Fair Centre.