Schiphol picks McKinsey, BCG and PA Consulting for strategic consultancy

02 November 2022 3 min. read

Schiphol Airport has following a competitive tender process selected McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and PA Consulting as its consultants for strategic issues.

All in all, eleven strategic consultancies pitched for the tender contract with the Netherlands’ main international airport, with the three winners familiar – and previously trusted – names by Schiphol’s management ranks.

The blanket agreement will see McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and PA Consulting provide boardroom consultancy services in support of key decisions over the next four years – in a deal worth up to €12 million.

Schiphol picks McKinsey, BCG and PA Consulting for strategic consultancy

McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) are particularly well-known partners for Schiphol, having sought strategic advice from them for decades. Recently, for example, the duo was involved in advising the airport during the Covid-19 pandemic.

McKinsey and BCG have also supplied economic studies and social cost-benefit analyses related to growth scenarios for Schiphol. This saw them assist Schiphol in recent years with studies into pricing for landing rights and airport usage fees.

Meanwhile, McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group also have a track record at Schiphol’s most important partner: national carrier KLM.

McKinsey was flown in by Air France-KLM several times for strategic work (most recently a SWOT analysis). Meanwhile, BCG is often seen as an unofficial ‘in-house advisor’ of the group, both in Paris and Amsterdam. In France the firm was a key contributor to Air France-KLM's new ‘New Horizon’ strategy, while in the Netherlands, BCG was involved as an advisor in KLM’s post-pandemic reorganisation plans.

In addition, KLM and Boston Consulting Group have a joint venture in the field of intelligent operations.

PA Consulting is hardly a stranger to Schiphol either. The third preferred supplier is a British consulting brand with a strong presence in the international aviation sector.

In the Dutch airport scene, PA Consulting is best known for its role in helping Schiphol with a major digital transformation and with the setup of a new commercialisation strategy for digital solutions. The latter engagement saw PA Consulting’s experts examine about 50 digital solutions used by the airport, and then with building go-to-market propositions for the five most promising solutions.

Since the launch of the offering, a number of solutions have since been sold to other airports – such as an AI solution that helps to prepare aircraft for departure more efficiently, now being used by Eindhoven Airport.

Complex issues

In the coming years, the three consulting firms will assist Schiphol through one of its most turbulent periods in decades. The airport is currently in a major crisis; with travellers angry about the chaos at the airport and the long queues, while KLM and other airlines growing unsettled by the large number of flights they have to cancel.

At the same time, a large number of employees are not satisfied with the working conditions, which has led the airport to the brink of strike action at various points.

Brand new CEO Ruud Sondag is hoping to steer Schiphol into calmer skies, though. Meanwhile, the chief executive will also have to deal with a number of more long-term challenges, including Schiphol’s desire to further improve its services to passengers, how the airport can remain competitive in a heating market, and how the airport can find the right balance between growth and sustainability.

Schiphol plans to operate completely net-zero by 2050, and within the next decade it intends for its own operations to become climate neutral. According to the tender award document, McKinsey, BCG and PA Consulting will play an important task in shaping and realising this ambition in particular.