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NEWS Last modified on October 11, 2011

Munich welcomes airport city pioneers

The Smart Airports 2011 conference has begun in Munich with a host of leading airport industry figures in attendance.

The Smart Airports 2011 conference has begun in Munich with a host of leading airport industry figures in attendance.

Yesterday, the first conference in a series of five spread over the week, saw airport city experts discuss the importance aviation and airports have on regional development and economic growth.

Chaired by John Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina, the conference was opened with welcoming speeches from Rainer Beeck, senior vice president of corporate real estate management at Munich Airport, and Hans Peter Göttler, head of the transport department at the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology, who emphasised how an effective air transport system was vital to the economic success of a region.

Beeck added that the event along with inter airport Euope – the exhibition which runs alongside Smart Airports – was an “indispensable gathering place, bringing together buyers, suppliers and airport operators to exchange ideas and information”.


Over the course of the day delegates learned how airports and air traffic have a catalytic effect on the surrounding region and its economy. In particular location, intermodality and good connections are considered vital to the success of an airport city.

Dr Charles Sclumberger, lead air transport specialist at the World Bank Group, went further adding that airport cities with good connectivity were a vital catalyst for the world’s economic development, stating that “aviation is absolutely key to the future of economic development.”

However he warned that “although the future of the industry looks great, as industry representatives we need to think about what could go wrong.”

In particular he questioned whether air fares could continue to remain low and whether liberalisation and privatisation would continue, however his “biggest fear” was the threat of rising oil prices and what it would mean for aviation.

Meanwhile, Chris Choa, principal at AECOM Design and Planning, also stressed the importance of liberalisation of airports. He said that important to future development was the liberalisation of access, ownership and foreign investment in airports worldwide.

Additionally, Maurits Schaafsma, urban planner at the Schiphol Group, told of the strategic importance of airports and how more and more businesses were using their facilities to conduct meetings.

This fact was later illustrated by Christoph Nebl, managing director of the Squaire at Frankfurt Airport who highlighted the success of the Squaire as “a city within itself, with its own Zip code.”

Meanwhile Schaafsma portrayed the concept of the modern day metropolis or aerotropolis as that of a scrambled egg.

He explained how while once a city would have just one central focus with urbanization spread around it, now, in the case of Amsterdam, there were many central areas with developments sprawled out in between, of which the airport was one.

Conference number two, today, will focus on the design and development of airports which will cover the master planning and design of important airport infrastructure.

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