Dr. Michael Hupe: A hub and an important transportation infrastructure for the region

Today, research and development are organized primarily in networks. Cooper­­ation and communication are basic re­­quirements for success. Contrary to the as­­sumption of the previous decade, that the development of modern telecommunication with video telephony and “virtual meetings” would make travelling redundant, the opposite effect has occurred. People are looking for personal contact, research groups establish themselves in one place temporarily and conferences remain an important pillar for the professional exchange of ideas.

In this respect, mobility is an important production factor, even more a productivity factor, in an internationally diverse, often global division of labour. At distan­­ces of more than 400 kilometres, this mobility can only be efficiently assured by air travel.


Unlike the charter traffic serving tourists, in which travellers are able to choose destination and time, the business traveller is less flexible. Date and place are fixed and should be met with minor pre- and post-flight time lags as well as being achievable within short travelling times. This leads to other requirements on the quality of flight connections than in tourism. High frequencies and a large selection of final destinations are re­­quired.
An attractive range of intercontinental destinations is offered in Europe by less than ten airports – the so-called hubs. Besides the amount of passengers of the region itself, all hubs are located in the catchment area of large cities or economi­­cally strong regions, an additional amount of passengers in form of transfer traffic is generated from secondary air­­ports. This alone justifies the oper­­­­ation of long-haul aircrafts.
For the secondary airports it is therefore important to be connected to the international air traffic network efficiently via hubs. Criteria for this are the number of flights per day in order to realise short connecting times. Three flights per day are regarded as the minimum.



Dresden Airport is able to offer a vast number of such connections. The two most important hubs of Germany, Frank­­­­furt and Munich, can be reached up to seven times a day. Vienna and Zurich are also served three times daily. There­­by many connecting flights with transfer times of 60 to 90 minutes are re­­achable within Europe or inter-continentally.

The airport therewith fulfils its task as the most important transportation in­­frastructure for the research and economic location of Dresden.
Additional (European) direct connections are intensively being worked on. Evidence of sufficient demand for their justification is only possible for a couple of destinations, due to the limited size of the catchment area and the below average purchasing power, in combination with the lack of prominent company headquarters and travel-intensive services.

The airport obtains knowledge regarding the demand of scientific institutions and industry through the analysis of final destinations of departing passengers, company surveys in collaboration with economic development corporations and cham­­bers of commerce as well as the evaluation of data from travel agencies. The development of intercon­­ti­­nental passengers in the past five years has been con­­siderable. During that period the accu­­mulated growth to Asia accounts for 74 per cent and to North America 25 per cent.


In order to manage air transport efficiently, safely and comfortably for travellers, much has been done at the airport in the past ten years. In 2001, a new ter­­minal along with a car park housing 1,500 parking spaces was put into operation. With its own motorway exit and a commuter railway station within the ter­­minal building, the airport has an optimal inter­­modal connection. This guarantees short distances and a speedy arrival and de­­parture. The airport thus ensures that the time the passenger gains in the air, is not lost on the ground. Regularly conducted surveys show that this is highly appreciated by passengers.

The runway, which was rebuilt and extended in 2007, will form a stable backbone for the handling of air traffic for many years. Including planning, application and project approval this ambitious project was im­­plemented in merely three years. With a length of 2,850 me­­tres, the runway is sufficiently sized for the route network of the airport, which is characterized by short and medium-haul traffic. Inter­­con­­ti­­nen­­tal flights are also possible, however with restrictions regarding payload and range for some types of aircraft.

Significant innovations are taking place below the surface. In cooperation with the airlines, the technical basis for in­­ternet and automated check-in has been implemented. This makes the lead time before the flight shorter and more flexible. With a separate area for general aviation, the airport is also well-equipped for business charter traffic.


As a result of the size of the terminal, which arose from the reconstruction of a historical production hangar of the GDR aircraft industry, conference rooms and a large event level could be integrated into the building. Therewith, a range of seminars and medium-sized conferences for up to 700 participants can be served, which is not only used by companies of the neighbourhood, but of the entire Dresden area. This pro­­duct benefits also from the infrastructure of the airport, having fast access routes and sufficient parking space.

The surrounding industry is likewise a beneficiary of the development of the infrastructure. In the north of Dresden, the direct environment of the airport, many high-tech companies have settled in several industrial areas. The aviation industry can also relate to the good old days. The modification of older passenger aircrafts to air freighters, fatigue tests of aircraft structures and the manufacture of components take place right next to the airport. With the inclusion of the aviation industry, 2,900 people are currently employed at the site.

michael-hupe-(3)The author, born in Seattle (USA) in 1964, is an industrial engineer and the Gerneral Manager of the Dresden Inter­national Air­­port. Dr. Hupe studied and obtained his doctorate at the Tech­­nische Uni­­ver­­si­­tät Darmstadt. From 1995 to 1998, he worked as a project manager at the Kreditanstalt für Wieder­­auf­­bau in the area of aircraft and airport financ­ing. Later, he was head of cor­po­rate financing at the Fraport AG.