29. April 2022

Interview with Günther Ofner

Günther Ofner, born on December 20, 1956, has been a Member of the Management Board of Flughafen Wien AG since 2011. Following his studies in law at the University of Vienna and various other activities, he began working at the insurance company Österreichische Volksfürsorge Jupiter Versicherungs AG in 1981. In 1994, he was appointed to serve as a Member of the Management Board and CFO of the utility company Burgenländische Elektrizitätswirtschafts AG (BEWAG). He also held the position of CEO of EVN Macedonia/Albania before joining Flughafen Wien AG.

1. Vienna Airport was suffering during the COVID crises as most players in the global aviation industry, how is the outlook for 2022 also considering the war in Ukraine?
Vienna Airport concluded the year 2021 with positive business results in spite of the coronavirus crisis and was clearly above the break-even point in contrast to many other airports. This was due to stringent cost-saving measures, the short-time working scheme and most recently thanks to rising passenger volumes. In spite of many uncertainties an upswing in passenger traffic and a strong summer season is expected for 2022. At present all flights between Russia, Ukraine and Vienna are cancelled, directly affecting about 4% of passenger volumes. Further impacts of the war in Ukraine are not yet predictable but from today’s perspective due to the significant increase of passenger volumes we will be able to match our passenger guidance of 17 million travellers expected in full year 2022.
2. How do you judge the importance of Vienna Airport for the CEE region in regards of passenger and cargo transports?
Vienna Airport continues to function as a reliable hub in regards of passenger and cargo transports for Central and Eastern Europe, even during the crisis. Vienna Airport was accessible throughout the entire period of the pandemic and ensured that numerous stranded passengers were able to get home quickly and safely. Particularly in the East, Vienna Airport acts as the first point of entry for air freight and when it comes to air cargo the airport is well prepared for special demands even during a crisis with state-of-the-art infrastructure, fast turnaround times and high quality, as well as experienced and qualified staff. The pandemic has clearly shown that air cargo is the country’s supply artery. Contrary to passenger numbers air cargo is developing in a relatively stable manner. In recent years, Vienna Airport has been able to even establish itself as an efficient gateway between Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
3. How important is the development of cargo for Vienna Airport and what do you expect for the rest of the year 2022?
The pandemic has clearly shown that air freight is indispensable. In 2022, Vienna Airport will almost reach the level of cargo volume of the pre-crisis year 2019. Aid flights and medical cargo have contributed to the good development, but cargo volume in general has also been steadily increasing in recent years, and we even expect an increased resumption of land routes in the second half of 2022. Thanks to years of investment in airport infrastructure, its excellent geographical location and its 24-hour operating permit, Vienna Airport is thus growing despite the crisis and is ideally equipped to meet current and future challenges.
4. Can you please give us an overview of the key sustainability and green deal initiatives of Vienna Airport and what is your personal favourite?
In recent years, the airport has reduced its CO2 emissions per traffic unit by 80% and energy consumption by more than 40% – and we are consistently continuing our climate protection offensive: since 2016 we have put seven photovoltaic systems into operation and the eighth – and with 55.000 solar panels the largest system in Austria – is currently being completed. All eight systems together will produce approx. 30 million kilowatt hours and we will then cover about 30% of our annual energy demand by solar power. We do also replace our vehicle fleet with e-mobility and operate one of the most sustainable office buildings in Austria. With these measures and the supply of CO2-neutral district heating by OMV, the airport is taking a big step towards the Green Airport. In 2023 we will run airport operations completely CO2-neutral.
5. Vienna Airport just put the newly designed Terminal 2 into operation, can you please give us an insight?
Vienna Airport invested in the future during the crisis, and completely modernised the oldest part of the terminal so travellers can take advantage of a modern and very exclusive lounge covering an area of 2,400 m² where elegant interior decoration and typical Viennese design elements, comfortable and high-quality furnishings and a panorama view of the airport apron combine to create a light and pleasant atmosphere. Passengers also will experience new restaurant and shop offerings, a centralised security check for the B, C and D gates as well as additional baggage claim conveyor belts. With putting Terminal 2 into operation the airport will once again operate the entire terminal infrastructure.
6. What are the latest developments of the AirportCity Vienna and where are the biggest advantages for your customers in the AirportCity?
Our AirportCity is growing rapidly and companies are very interested in settling here. Deutsche Logistik Holding (DLH) is building the SkyLog Park Vienna with 25,000 sqm of logistics space here, the airline DHL Air has relocated its headquarters to AirportCity and the real estate developer Helios Real Estate is building a large logistics center on 21 hectares. In total, around 1,000 new jobs will be created at the site as a result of the settlement of new companies. Many of them in the heart of AirportCity, Office Park 4 – one of the most modern office buildings in Austria with the AirportCity Space as a top-equipped event, conferencing and co-working infrastructure. Companies and employees benefit from the state-of-the-art office infrastructure, the excellent connectivity to road, train and aircraft and a wide range of local amenities and healthcare services.
7. Any important news to come in the near future from Vienna Airport that you want to share with our audience?
Vienna Airport and AirportCity are constantly developing. More and more airlines are taking on new destinations, the number of passengers is constantly increasing and a third hotel will soon be built at the location. More and more companies are settling in the AirportCity and anyone who is interested here should be quick, the interest is great.
Flughafen Wien AG is one of the few airports in Europe quoted on the stock exchange. As a developer, builder and operator of Vienna Airport it offers the full range of associated services, such as airport and ground operations, security services, infrastructure provider and commercial activities. Thanks to its geographical position in the centre of Europe, it is one of the most important hubs for the growing number of destinations in central and eastern Europe. In the last year before the COVID-19-pandemic Vienna Airport handled the record number of 31,7 mio. passengers in Vienna and 39,5 mio. passengers in the whole Vienna Airport Group including its subsidiaries Malta Airport and Kosice Airport. After a pandemic-related decline passenger figures are rising up again and for 2022 Vienna Airport is expecting 17 mio. passengers. By consequently following its strategy for CO2-reduktion Vienna Airport will become one of Europes first green airports in 2023.
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