Fraport AG’s supervisory board today appointed Dr. Stefan Schulte (age 48) to a five-year term as the company’s new executive board chairman (CEO) effective September 1, 2009. Currently the company’s executive board vice chairman, Schulte will take over from Dr. Wilhelm Bender who will turn 65 in early August and reach retirement after more than 16 years at the helm of the Fraport airport company. Karlheinz Weimar, the supervisory board chairman of Fraport and Hesse minister of finance, announced the appointment following today’s supervisory board meeting. Newly elected to the executive board is Peter Schmitz (age 58), who currently is Fraport’s senior executive vice president for ground services. The change of leadership also involves a redistribution of responsibilities among the executive board members.
Confidence in the New Team
Weimar declared that the supervisory board is confident the new team is capable of steering the Fraport ship safely and successfully through bumpy waters during these times of great economic and financial crisis, to ensure Frankfurt Airport’s future viability and competitiveness by expanding the airport quickly, and to provide positive prospects for the economy of the region and the entire State of Hesse. With Schulte, the supervisory board opted for an executive manager who is “thoroughly prepared for his new task, with great expertise, leadership skill, alertness, and diligence.” In both his positions as Fraport’s executive board vice chairman responsible for airport expansion and before that as CFO, Schulte has gained an impressive profile qualifying him as the successor of Bender. Thus his appointment was a “logical step” Weimar said. The change of leadership is also a generational change.
Weimar characterized the new executive board member Peter Schmitz as a “recognized logistics expert” who has served for many years as executive vice president for ground services and who has “proven his worth for advancement to the executive board.” The supervisory board expects Schmitz, as well as the entire executive board, to produce a sustainable concept for the future of Fraport’s aviation ground services – a concept that equally takes care of the company’s future competitiveness and the concerns of the employees. The supervisory board places great expectations in the “leadership qualities and expertise” of the new executive board member.
Three Key Tasks
The future executive board chairman Schulte primarily sees three key tasks: mobilizing all forces to weather the current economic and financial crisis, pushing ahead with the expansion of Frankfurt Airport with resolve to ensure inauguration of the new runway for the 2011 winter timetable, and further increasing customer satisfaction at FRA.
Since April 2007, Schulte has been Fraport’s executive board vice chairman responsible for FRA’s expansion program, traffic and terminal management, airport security management, the real estate and facility management unit, and the legal affairs unit. Prior to this, Schulte was Fraport’s executive board member responsible for finance (CFO). Born in Wuppertal, Germany, Schulte is a banker and business economist. Before joining Fraport, he served on the executive board of Cologne-based Deutz AG, where he was responsible for finance and human resources.
Fraport’s newly-appointed executive board member Peter Schmitz has worked for the airport operator since 2001, in his current position serving as senior executive vice president for Fraport’s ground services division. Born in Wanne-Eickel, Germany, Schmitz is a logistics specialist with a military background. Before changing to the private sector he was a colonel in the general staff of the German military.
Schmitz looks forward to his new responsibilities. He believes that the “Fraport team needs a motivational boost via clear directional signs from the top management.” He intends to contribute to this important task.
Bender’s Outstanding Service
In particular, Weimar pointed out that Dr. Wilhelm Bender, who will retire at the end of August, has done outstanding service for the development of Frankfurt Airport during over one-and-a-half decades. Heading Fraport for more than 16 years, Bender is not only a “veteran of the international airport landscape” but also the longest-serving CEO of all DAX-listed companies in Germany. Weimar stressed that the supervisory board extends special thanks to Dr. Bender.
Outstanding achievements during Bender’s chairmanship included, above all, the company’s privatization and initial public offering (IPO) in 2001, internationalization of the Fraport Group, and expansion of Frankfurt Airport – for which the ground breaking will start in early May. Frankfurt is on target for staying competitive in the future, thanks to the privatization and the expansion program. Bender has always enjoyed the broad support of Hessian policy makers, Weimar emphasized. “Wilhelm Bender has written a crucial chapter of successful airport history, for which we are all thankful.”