VIE’S South Extension ‘will drive sense of place’

By Kristiane Sherry |

Julian Jäger is focusing on a sense of place at Vienna Airport.

Vienna Airport is focusing on driving sense of place in an enhanced retail experience with its new 70,000sqm Terminal 3 South Extension set to open in 2027, Julian Jäger, Vienna Airport CEO, told TR Consumer Forum delegates in a keynote presentation this morning. 

The terminal extension will increase the non-aviation potential of the airport, Jäger said, with the development increasing retail and food and beverage space by around 50%.

He plans to have a number of Austrian F&B concepts in the new space, along with local and international brands.

Heinemann will have a presence operating travel retail in the new space, with a focus on luxury and speciality retailing. 

“Overall, we expect a very significant increase in our passenger revenue,” he added.

Vienna Airport has partnered with Portland on the design of the space, which brings in Vienna’s ‘golden heritage’ 

“It tries to reflect the period of Vienna a bit more than 100 years ago and the main features are green and gold.”

Vienna Airport is already among the top when ranked by process and punctuality. “In the future, with this terminal, we want to be the first league of the European airports in terms of spaciousness, retail offer, and quality.”

The tender process is expected to open in the autumn.

Flexibility during the pandemic

Jäger also detailed how the airport navigated the pandemic from a retail partner perspective, explaining that Vienna extended contracts where possible.

While passenger mix has changed significantly, travel retail sales have rebounded to 2019 levels at Vienna.

“I would say in 90% of the cases we managed to find a new agreement or to extend contracts or for operators to be in a position to cover the losses,” he stated.

He added that towards the end of Covid and on into 2022 the team opened new F&B outlets to accommodate the increasing passenger numbers.

Jäger also confirmed that duty free sales at Vienna Airport have now rebounded past 2019 levels.

“Even in 2022 what we saw is that the average Wizz Air passenger, the average RyanAir passenger, they spent significantly more than before the pandemic,” he detailed. 

He attributed this to revenge spend, and the need for passengers to treat themselves.

Recovery by traffic was more of a mixed picture, with Europe and the Far East still below 2019 levels. The biggest declines were to Germany – “our worst market” – and Austria, where passengers seemed to opt for rail or road transport options instead. 

Russia, Ukrainian and Chinese passengers

Three major passenger groups yet to recover to 2019 levels were Russians and Ukranians due to the ongoing conflict, and Chinese travellers. 

“We always had a very strong influx of visitors from Russia and from Ukraine,” Jäger said. Prior to the war, the groups represented 5% of visitor numbers but 20% of travel retail revenues. “This was a big hit for us at the airport.”

He acknowledged that the delayed return of Chinese passengers was being experienced across the industry. Sales to Vienna’s luxury and speciality stores have been hit as a result. 

A renewed focus in light of the pandemic has been to focus on developing landside retail and F&B at the airport.

“This is an area where we don’t offer right now the right space or enough space,” he admitted. “This is something that needs to come.”

Jäger also confirmed that Vienna is now a carbon-neutral airport, and is working to become net-zero by 2033.

Back in December, Vienna revealed a flurry of new concessions set to open in 2023.

Vienna Airport is the host for the 2023 TR Consumer Forum, which concludes tomorrow.


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