Full steam ahead
Editor, Joe Bates, reflects on a busy start to 2016 and looks forward to the Airport Economics & Finance Conference and Exhibition in London.
Life is certainly never dull in the aviation industry as the first few weeks of 2016 have shown with the announcement of record-breaking traffic figures, news of major expansion projects and investors vying for new concessions across the globe.
Although the final figures are not yet in for all the world’s biggest airports, with a staggering 101.5 million passengers passing through its facilities in 2015, there is little doubt that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will hold on to its crown as the busiest gateway on the planet.
A 5.5% upturn in traffic led to Hartsfield-Jackson becoming the first airport to handle over 100 million passengers in a calendar year. Other major airports to report significant growth in 2015 have included Chicago O’Hare (9.8%), Miami (+8.3%), Hong Kong (+8.1%), Los Angeles (6.8%) and Dubai (DXB), which has jumped from being the sixth busiest airport in the world to third based on the 78 million passengers (+10.7%) welcomed last year.
Infrastructure development news has come in the way of Mactan-Cebu starting work on its new Terminal 2; the opening of Dubai International’s impressive new Concourse D; and the unveiling of the designs of a striking new control tower for Istanbul’s new mega hub.
When it comes to investing in airports, as ‘The buying game’ feature in this ‘Economics & Finance’ themed issue reveals, the appeal of owning, operating and developing airports continues to grow.
Indeed, as Airport World went to press, bids were being made for London City Airport; SNC-Lavalin announced the intention to sell its stake in Malta International Airport to the Vienna Airport Group; and the Iranian President’s state visit to France led to the signing of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) for the award of potential concessions and development contracts for Isfahan, Mashhad and Imam Khomeini (Teheran) airports in Iran.
VINCI Airports is the interested party in Mashhad and Isfahan airports, and Aéroports de Paris and Bouygues Bâtiment International are looking at Imam Khomeini.
Other economics/finance themed articles in our first issue of 2016 include features about the importance of retail/F&B revenues; retail innovation; Moscow Domodedovo’s aerotropolis; and new revenue streams, while ACI debates the often-thorny subject of airport charges.
Elsewhere you can read about the latest environmental initiatives; designing airports for an aging population; and intelligent airports.
The airport in the spotlight is London Gatwick and CEO, Stewart Wingate, tells us why he believes that a second runway at his gateway is the best solution for the UK’s capacity problems.
I am sure that some of the topics we cover will be discussed at the upcoming Airport Economics & Finance Conference in London, whether during the conference sessions themselves, in the exhibition hall, round the dinner table or in private meetings between delegates.
It is always one of my favourite events because it is usually the first big ACI event of the year, offers two days of interesting and lively debate, and provides the first opportunity to get some sense of how the industry is feeling about the year ahead.
Finally, I would like to clarify a point I made in this column in the last issue of Airport World. My belief that ACI World is almost unrecognisable today from the organisation that existed 20 years ago does not imply any criticism of the founding fathers or their considerable achievements during ACI’s formative years.
Indeed, during this time the late Dr Assad Kotaite, the former President of ICAO, recognised ACI as one of the three pillars of civil aviation, together with ICAO and IATA. And in its first five years, ACI doubled its membership in comparison to the previous constituent associations and recruited hundreds of new airports, effectively laying the foundations for the continued growth the organisation enjoys to this day.
My comment was meant to underscore ACI’s growth over recent years, particularly since its move to Montréal, as it is now a much larger and stronger organisation, having been built on the good work done in the early years by the founding fathers.