Travelling in style

Located in the suburb of Kranebitten, in the west of the city, Innsbruck Airport is a hugely important economic driver for the region of Tyrol, providing services to and from a number of key European destinations – including London, Amsterdam, Vienna and Frankfurt – and hosting carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa, EasyJet, FINNAIR and Transavia. It was back in May 2018, when Land, Sea & Air Magazine first documented the activities and importance of the airport, and in speaking with Airport Director, Marco Pernetta, it quickly becomes clear that the near 18 months since has been an exceptional period for this vital transportation hub.

“Between January 2018 and January 2019, we handled the highest number of passengers in a single year here at Innsbruck Airport, with numbers exceeding 1.1 million,” Marco begins. “We then followed that with an excellent three-month winter season, which culminated in March 2019 being our single largest month ever in terms of passenger numbers, when we handled over 200,000 visitors to the airport.

“Needless to say, then, that this past winter was a very good one for the airport, one in which we enjoyed excellent weather in the Alps, welcomed more new flights, introduced new routes such as our direct link with EasyJet to Berlin, and saw an increase in passenger loads on existing routes with the arrival of newer, large aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo and A321neo. We have since seen a good increase in traffic in the summer months, meaning that 2019 is on track to be the seventh consecutive year of record growth, which is very unique indeed in the regional airport space.”

The last year and a half has also been one of change within the walls of the airport itself, with 2018, for instance, marking the completion of a brand-new frequent flyer business lounge – the ‘Tyrol Lounge’ – as well as upgrades to its check in facilities, at a combined cost of approximately €12 million. Covering over 250 square metres, the Tyrol Lounge pairs regional elements with high-quality design to create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. As well as an area catered for food and drink, the lounge also boasts three workspaces for business travellers and a relaxation zone with panoramic views of the Tyrolean mountains.

“The Tyrol Lounge is a truly first-class addition to the airport, and it has been recognised as such by picking up several design awards since it opened its doors,” Marco adds. “Our passengers have been incredibly pleased with its addition to the airport and we expect more than 30,000 of them to use it each year. This equates to six per cent of our total departing passengers, which is a particularly high figure, even when compared to the use of lounges in some of the larger international airports.”

As impressive as the Tyrol Lounge may be, Marco and the rest of the Innsbruck Airport team have even grander designs when it comes to further investment in the coming months and years. “One of the biggest developments on our radar today will be the renewal of the airport’s entire runway surface, which is due to be completed in late 2021, following a four-week shut down between September and October of that year,” he explains. “From there, the next major step will be the rebuilding of our existing terminal building, which was originally built in 1963, ahead of the 1964 Winter Olympic Games.”

Discussions surrounding the redevelopment of the terminal infrastructure are in the process of taking place between Innsbruck Airport and the relevant local and governmental authorities, however Marco is confident that tendering for architectural designs will begin during the first half of 2020, before work potential commences in 2023. “The entire project is expected to represent an investment of around €90 million,” Marco reveals. “As with any modernisation or improvement work we carry out, our primary focus here will be on improving overall service quality and passenger experience. To facilitate this, some of the works we have plans for include the enlarging of our arrival hall and gate areas, the doubling our security control zones in order to reduce bottle necking at peak times, and the building of areas that will accommodate the introduction of biometric controls for both arrivals and departures.”

On a smaller, yet equally as important, level, the airport also continues to operate with the utmost consideration taken towards both the local community and the environment. “Being located in the middle of the city, we are well aware that the majority of our arriving and departing aircraft pass over the centre. For this reason, we have enacted strong measures in the area of noise reduction, for example,” Marco states. “Among such measures is the fact that we maintain the shortest operating times of any Austrian airport when it comes to both commercial and private traffic, that we have stringent slot co-ordination functions to avoid Airportcongestion at peak times, and our efforts in sponsoring the installation of noise protection windows in the homes of local people. Meanwhile, from an emissions and energy saving perspective, we are utilising more and more electric powered vehicles for our ground operations, have installed solar panels onto our new check in terminal area in order to generate our own electricity, and have solar water heating tools on the roof of our hangar building.”

With the 2020 winter season on the horizon at the time of our conversation, Marco concludes by highlights some of the short-term developments that await Innsbruck Airport. “We are very excited that we will soon be having more flights arriving and departing on our EasyJet Berlin route, and we will also shortly be adding the city of Split in Croatia to our list of destinations for outgoing traffic,” he says. “From there, we will soon be welcoming several new customers to the airport, in the form of Jet2, Norwegian and Lufthansa CityLine, the latter of which is expected to take over responsibility for our important Frankfurt route, bringing with it a significant increase in passenger numbers. All of which, when combined with the ongoing internal actions taking place right across Innsbruck Airport, puts us in a great place to approach what we hope will be an eighth year of consecutive growth!”

Innsbruck Airport
The largest international airport in Tyrol
Handled record passenger numbers in 2018-19
Has ambitious plans for a renewed terminal building and runway