Service and Operations Management

Airport Cologne-Bonn: Designing a Service for the Future

Print Share
Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) is a secondary commercial airport in Germany, serving the metropolitan area of Cologne and Bonn. It has two main B2B client groups in the airline business: low cost carriers such as Eurowings and cargo carriers such as FedEx and UPS, which had their European hub there. In 2015, the passenger business of airports was in a transition phase: low-cost carriers (e.g., Eurowings and Ryanair) were growing at the expense of established full-service network carriers (e.g., Lufthansa), while high-speed train connections presented a viable alternative to air travel. In this context, Athanasios Titonis, the managing director of the Cologne Bonn Airport operating company, had to devise a new strategy for the airport's future. Instead of just looking at process optimization to cut costs, he had to find ways to grow the airport's sales volume too. This required a general management approach to the problem, supported by an assessment of viability with respect to the operational side of any possible solutions.
Bibliographic citation: Schmidt, Thomas; Titonis, Athanasios; Sachon, Marc, "Airport Cologne-Bonn: Designing a Service for the Future", IESE, P-1144-E, 04/2016
Date: 11/04/2016
Author(s): Schmidt, Thomas; Titonis, Athanasios; Sachon, Marc
Document type: Case
Editor(s): CIIL - Centro Internacional de Investigación Logística
Department: Production, Technology and Operations Management
Sector: Air transport
Languages: English
Year of the events: 2015
Geographic area: Germany
Learning objective The case can be used in an MBA course in an executive education setting to define an operations strategy for a company in the service sector. Students are asked to analyze the airport's capacity (with respect to passenger air traffic, not cargo, which is beyond the scope of the case) and then assess the future competitiveness of the business in an environment of increasing competition from other airports and the stringent requirements of low-cost carriers. Students also discuss the role of airport's ownership structure (national, state and municipal governments) and this structure's effect on possible growth strategies. Finally, they reflect on the business of airports in a deregulated airline industry where an increasing amount of revenues and profits has to come from nonaviation activities. Within the operations strategy framework, the case facilitates discussion of the topics of capacity management and facility planning as well as managing customer experience (both for B2B and B2C).