Jost Lammers has been the CEO and a member of the board of directors at Budapest Airport Zrt., the company operating Liszt Ferenc International Airport,
for more than a decade. His results are plain to see. In 2015 he earned the CAPA Aviation Award for Excellence – Airport of the Year and the Highly recommended at World Routes Marketing Awards, plus “Best Airport in Region” from Skytrax for the past three years in a row.
Such ongoing success cannot be attained by following a pre-made recipe, nor is it just a question of luck, Lammers emphasised during his lecture on “Change management” to Andrássy University students this month. The success story of Liszt Ferenc Airport has been unusual right from the beginning – it was the most expensive airport privatisation of its time. Furthermore, like the aviation industry worldwide, Budapest Airport has also undergone a great deal of change since then.
Lammers gave an example from February 3, 2012 to show how deeply some events are able to influence change: from 6am that day no more airplanes owned by Malév ever ascended into the air. Although the Hungarian airline had been struggling with economic problems for years, the sudden loss of almost 40% of the airport’s flights came as a huge shock.
The situation demanded that the interests of a large number of stakeholders and clients be met all together and under extremely high pressure. “We had to do everything at the same time back then,” Lammers recalled.
In such an extreme situation it had been really worth having a well-prepared team to back him up. In the previous months they had prepared for a number of possible scenarios, including the worst case. This foresight had been partly why operational services for passengers could be restored to a “normal level” within the shortest time possible.
Management’s performance had been much more than just crisis management. This could clearly be seen by not only the airport’s survival but also its subsequent long-term, sustainable growth, of which Lammers is especially proud.
“The most important task is to carry out the change consequently in the same way we began,” he said.
In addition to this case study of “change management”, the CEO told the students that an airport is a highly complex service provider. Lammers and his team must provide a “stable mix” not only in terms of airline companies and routes, they also have to guarantee first-class gastronomy, shopping, security and cleanliness at every hour of the day.
The airport profits from the fact today that its managers come not only from the aviation industry but also a number of different economic branches.