Airports are emerging from challenging times. After unprecedented financial strain, competition and traffic volatility, many are looking at fundamentally changing the way they do business as they prepare for a growth cycle.
New or reinvented facilities are part of most plans, as airports look to expand services and revenue sources while becoming operationally agile, consistently competitive and risk-resilient. Weather, political unrest, macroeconomic conditions, security concerns, regulation/deregulation and consolidation are just a few of the quick-moving changes airports must prepare for.
Infrastructure improvements may include new terminals, expanded runways, new technology, better connections to local transport – and everything, from people movers to self-check-in, that enhances travelers' airport time.
"Airport cities” that gather offices, commerce, logistics, technology, lodging and retail around an airport nucleus are being implemented in numerous cities around the world where the airport sits outside the urban centre, or provides a unique offering to its community.
Historically, there have been two financing/operating models for airport infrastructure. In the US, municipal governments, typically the owners of the airports, have contributed the lion’s share, with private sources funding commercial initiatives, usually outside the gate. Outside the US the story has been significantly different, with airports either fully privatised or existing in some form of public-private-partnership (PPP) where a private entity operates and maintains the airport under a concession agreement.
As the world economy moves forward, PPPs are expected to take on increasing importance at airports around the world. The key to success is to strive to structure the right blend of government and private participation.