It is one of the last days that Udo Mager will be spending as Managing Director at Dortmund Airport. For a good seven years, he campaigned for the interests of the company and its employees. At today’s press conference, Guntram Pehlke, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Dortmund Airport and Chairman of the Board of the parent company DSW21, gave an overview of Udo Mager’s term of office.
There was also a lot to tell because the past seven years have been extremely successful for Dortmund Airport. 1.92 million passengers used Dortmund Airport in 2013 – the year Udo Mager started. And in 2019 there were 40 percent more passengers, at 2.72 million, and the airport achieved the best results ever. In addition to increasing the number of passengers, Mager’s stated goal was to get as close as possible to the black in operating profit. The concept for the future to pave the way for this goal was approved by the EU Commission in summer 2019. In the same year, the operating deficit was reduced to EUR 0.4 million. “If you look at the development of both the passenger numbers and the results, Udo Mager deserves an A plus grade,” says Pehlke.
Then came the year 2020, which could have been one of the hardest for the outgoing Managing Director. “I still remember 13 March 2020 exactly. That day I presented our Supervisory Board with the best annual result in the history of the airport,” says Mager. One day later, all flights to Poland – one of Dortmund Airport’s most important markets – were suspended. Less than a week later, the number of passengers dropped to less than 1,000 a day, and all dining options, the visitor terrace and the duty free shop were closed. The crisis team was convened. “Those were difficult times for all of us. As the Managing Director, I thought: ‘I hope it will work out!’ The number of passengers continued to decline in the course of April and May, and in some cases we didn’t have any passengers at all,” says Mager. Then came the bright spot: On 18 June, the Hungarian airline Wizz Air announced that it was opening a base at Dortmund Airport in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The fact that Dortmund Airport is currently getting through the pandemic much better than most other airports and that the partnership with Wizz Air was even able to expand during this time is also largely thanks to Udo Mager,” says Pehlke.
For Pehlke there was only one thing left to say in the end: “I would like to thank Udo Mager for his outstanding work as Managing Director. And I would like to personally thank him for his loyal work with us. I wish him all the best in his new life, especially his health, and time for all the things that he couldn’t get to in the past years.”
Ludger van Bebber will succeed Udo Mager
Mager’s successor is no stranger to the industry. Ludger van Bebber, previously Managing Director at Weeze Airport, will be in charge of the business at Dortmund Airport starting 1 October.
He will be following in big footsteps, but is aware of the responsibility and is looking forward to the new challenge: “Dortmund Airport has developed extremely well in recent years. I am excited by the challenge of further developing this location in a prosperous city with a professional team.”
He is also bringing his own goals with him: “2021 will certainly still be clearly shaped by coping with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, the top priority is to return to the previous traffic level as quickly as possible and to continue our strong economic development,” says van Bebber.
“With the opening of the base, the change in the operating times and the application for threshold relocation, the company is positioned for the future. Even if the aviation industry still faces some difficult months or years, Dortmund Airport is well equipped. I wish Mr van Bebber every success and all the best!” says Mager.
Pehlke is certain that van Bebber will achieve his goals and be the best possible successor for Mager: “Ludger van Bebber is an absolute specialist. He is very familiar with the aviation industry, has a lot of experience and has a large network. He also proved two things in Weeze: On the one hand, that he can cope with difficult situations. And on the other hand, that he can also further develop the secondary business, the so-called non-aviation area. All in all, these are exactly the characteristics and qualifications that are needed to continue the extraordinarily successful work of Udo Mager. We will face the major challenges in the years to come together. I'm really looking forward to working with you.”