Munich Airport
© Flughafen München

Gateway to the skies

  • INTERVIEW DETLEF WITTKUHN

The new satellite at Munich  Airport, in operation since April 2016, is Germany’s first midfield terminal. Burkhard Feuge, team leader at Lufthansa, which commissioned the building, speaks about high-speed luggage delivery, cathedral-style stations and storing cold during the night 

Mr. Feuge, Munich Airport’s Terminal 2 opened in 2003, and only seven years later the decision was taken to expand it. Isn’t that a bit unusual?

Terminal 2 grew a lot faster than we expected it to. Luckily, during the T2 project we had already focused on the next expansion stage; the structural work were planned so that it could be implemented smoothly.

Can you give us an example of this structural work?

The baggage hall on the apron was built 13 years ago; now it is the ground floor of the new midfield terminal. Back then, we had already planned to build the satellite terminal on top of this existing hall. The tower stood on its own on the apron for 11 years, and today it is integrated in the building. We also built all the tunnels in advance, i.e. those for baggage handling and the tunnels for the passenger transit system.

This system takes the passengers from Terminal 2 to the satellite.

The building shells of both stations have been ready since 2003. At Terminal 2, just off the center and at an angle to the apron, there is a glass hall, a building almost like a cathedral, which is the spectacular station for the trains that take passengers to the satellite. The train covers the distance of 450 meters between the terminal and the satellite in under a minute.

Infografik zum Satellitenterminal am Flughafen München (MUC).
© Deutsche Lufthansa AG

How easy is it for the passengers to find their way around the building?

The satellite is open to two sides, and that means that you always know where you are. I can look out through the windows, either towards Terminal 2 or over the open grounds towards the woodland and fields. In the toilets we have used the same greenish glass walls panels as in Terminal 2, so that everyone can see at a glance, ‘Ok, this is where I need to go.’

What makes a midfield terminal special?

It is purely for departures. Passengers do not check in here; instead, they come here from Terminal 2 and board here. With the new satellite, we can handle eleven million passengers more a year.

What were the key construction targets?

Safety and, most importantly, fire protection were our priorities. Equally important in today’s world are environmental considerations. Compared with Terminals 1 and 2, the satellite has 40 percent less carbon emissions.

How did you achieve that?

The 4.5-meter high climate control façade with two glass walls keeps the heat away from the waiting areas. The top quality glass offers superior heat protection over a total area of 125,000 square meters, which is the equivalent of 18 football fields. We also used a new material called Phase Change Material for the jetways; during the night it stores cold and, if it gets too hot during the day, it releases this cold energy.

As well as fire protection, baggage management was another main challenge in this construction project.

We have managed to increase the capacity of the system by 40 percent and without disrupting day-to-day operations, which shows you how well executed this project was. We now have nearly 50 kilometers of conveyer belts in a highly efficient layout and with integrated x-ray controls. A super-fast computer calculates the shortest distances within the system, responds to capacity peaks and makes any necessary adjustments. Overall, this is probably one of the most efficient baggage handling systems in the world.

Looking at terminal 2 from the new satellite

Looking at terminal 2 from the new satellite

© AFP/Getty Images

But surely in a project of this magnitude you must have encountered challenges somewhere along the line?

Of course. The baggage hall, which is 450 meters distance from Terminal 2, had to remain fully operational throughout. A further challenge was the fact that we were building in the middle of the security zone: for four years, at times with eight cranes, one of which was 63 meters tall, with planes landing and taking off around us. We had to build an access road for the site traffic right across the apron. The 35 passenger jetways were lowered into position with gantry cranes.

So how much of Lufthansa is there in the architecture?

For the satellite, we adopted the award-winning architecture of Terminal 2 and took it a step further: the new building has a light, open and very pleasant ambience. You can also see this in the pier areas, where we have recreation areas and children’s play areas. The aim was to combine a sense of well-being with a high quality of stay and operational excellence. It is no coincidence that Munich is the only airport outside of Asia to receive a 5-star rating by Skytrax, an evaluation based on objective criteria.

The satellite cost nearly €700 million. There are probably few other building projects that have such a broad range of demands as an airport project.

You’re quite right. The combination of service, safety requirements, automation and many other aspects makes these projects incredibly complex. You have to take a systematic approach and, most importantly, include the user in all considerations, in other words the airlines, the authorities and the businesses operating stores and restaurants. The project team started meeting to discuss all the needs and aspects long in advance of construction actually starting. These consultations were continued until the test operation phase, which lasted several months, had been concluded. Alongside the very detailed planning work, this highly systematic approach was one of the key factors for the project’s success.

What characterizes a modern airport?

Passengers should feel comfortable and relaxed. Lightness, tranquility, a view out to the surroundings were all very important for us. We expanded the central area, integrated the apron tower in the building and encircled it with glass panels so that people can look up and see the apron traffic controllers at work.

A lot of time at an airport is usually spent waiting.

We have built five new lounges, which are arranged around the central area. The First Class Lounge has a terrace with a beer garden ambiance, including a great view of the apron. In poor weather, the area is covered with large umbrellas. The design of the food court was inspired by Munich’s Viktualienmarkt food market, surrounded by lots of shops and international restaurants and cafes. We also implemented some appealing ideas for the waiting areas, including a small grandstand around the foot of the tower where passengers can look out onto the apron from varying heights; there is also a 72 square-meter LED video screen on the tower where we show attractive films showcasing a choice of destinations. Passengers stand in front of it and take photos. It really is ‘Groad schee is,’ as one says here in Bavaria – really beautiful.


Burkhard Feuge, 57, born in Braunschweig,  is a business graduate and started his career at Lufthansa in 1990 as a consultant in the department for traffic management in Germany. He then became deputy station manager in Düsseldorf, and went on to spend two years as station manager in Hanover; from 1989 until 2003 he was Lufthansa’s overall project manager for Terminal 2 in Munich, then spent three years as station manager in Munich, three years as managing  director of DLH for Terminal 2 operating  company. Since 2011, he has performed all of the above duties as Vice President Ground Operations Hub MUC, Passenger & Bag Processes Hub Airlines, Terminal 2 Company.