Schiphol chooses McKinsey, BCG and PA Consulting for strategic advice

For its most strategic issues, Schiphol’s board will collaborate with consultants from McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and PA Consulting.

After a tendering process, the three consulting firms were chosen as the airport’s preferred suppliers for board advice. Eleven parties competed for the prestigious four-year contract worth €8 to €12 million.

By choosing McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the country’s largest airport has chosen well-known partners with whom it has provided strategic advice for years. The two firms were recently involved in advisory processes during the corona pandemic, as well as in economic studies and social cost-benefit analyzes related to growth scenarios for Schiphol.

In recent years, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group have also assisted Schiphol with investigations into fees for landing charges and use of the airport (port charges).

By choosing the American strategy giants, Schiphol is also betting on well-known names for the airport’s most important partner: KLM. McKinsey has been flown in several times in recent years by Air France-KLM for strategic work (recently: a SWOT analysis), and the Boston Consulting Group, according to insiders, is even described as an internal adviser to the group, both in Paris and in Amsterdam .

For example, Boston Consulting Group in France formed the basis of Air France-KLM’s new ‘New Horizon’ strategy, and in our country the strategy consultant was involved as an advisor in the national airline’s post-corona restructuring plans. KLM even has a joint venture with the Boston Consulting Group in the field of intelligent operations.

The third preferred supplier, PA Consulting, is a UK agency with a strong footprint in the international aviation sector. The agency is best known in the Netherlands for its support to Schiphol during a major digital transformation and more recently for establishing a new commercial organization.

Between early 2021 and early 2022, PA Consulting helped Schiphol develop a new strategy for the commercialization of digital solutions. The consultants examined around 50 digital solutions, mapped the market potential and helped the airport develop proposals for the five most promising solutions.

Some solutions have already been ‘sold’ to other airports. For example, an AI solution that helps prepare flights faster for departure is already being used by Eindhoven Airport.

Complex issues

The three consulting firms must assist Schiphol in one of the most turbulent times in decades. The airport is currently in a major crisis. Travelers are angry about the chaos at the airport and the long queues, KLM and other airlines are angry about the large number of flights they have to cancel, and a large number of employees are not satisfied with the working conditions.

It is up to the brand new managing director Ruud Sondag to steer Schiphol into calmer waters. A huge job, but de Zeeuw firmly believes in the possibilities of solving the biggest bottlenecks within a period of less than a year.

At the same time, Sondag has to handle the many long-term tasks that Schiphol has to handle. This includes the airport’s ambition to further improve its service orientation towards travelers (and other stakeholders) and how Schiphol can remain competitive in the current market.

The most complex task undoubtedly lies in finding the right balance between growth and sustainability. Schiphol wants to operate as a net-zero airport by 2050, and within ten years it will have its own climate-neutral operations. According to the award document, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and PA Consulting are given an important task of shaping and realizing that ambition.

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