Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the challenge of keeping pace with rising demand as global traffic figures hit an all-time high in 2017.
Although ACI World’s official traffic figures for 2017 are still to be calculated, there is little doubt that last year was another recording break one for the industry with passenger numbers significantly up across the globe.
Indeed, ACI Europe has already announced that 2017 was “a very good year” for the continent’s airports based on an 8.5% increase in both passenger traffic and cargo volumes and a 3.8% rise in aircraft movements.
The impressive upturns made 2017 the best year for Europe’s airports since 2004 in terms of traffic growth, a fact reflected by double digit increases in passenger numbers at airports such as Moscow Sheremetyevo (+17.8%), Antalya (+38%), Keflavik (+28%) and Naples (+26.6%).
Heathrow with 78 million (+3%), Paris CDG with 69.5 million (+5.4%), Amsterdam Schiphol with 68.4 million (+7.7%), Frankfurt with 64.5 million (+6.1%) and Istanbul Atatürk with 63.9 million (+5.9%) retained their status as Europe’s busiest airports for passenger traffic.
All, however, have quite a way to go before they get anywhere near the 103.9 million passengers handled by the world’s busiest gateway, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) in 2017. For the record, the second busiest passenger airport on the planet, Beijing Capital (PEK) accommodated 95.8 million (+1.5%) last year to close the gap to 8.1 million passengers.
The upward trend in global traffic is most welcome, of course, and with throughput expected to soar in the years ahead – ACI predicts that global passenger numbers will double to 14.6 billion by 2029 and treble to 22.3 billion per annum by 2040 – all looks good in terms of potential growth.
The challenge for the aviation industry and nations across the world, however, is to make sure that the necessary infrastructure, technology, services, personnel and legislation are in place to allow aviation to keep pace with demand.
The need for new or improved facilities is certainly not lost on airport operators with hundreds of infrastructure development projects currently underway or planned across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin-America and the Caribbean.
They include the planned new airports of Beijing Daxing, Chengdu Tianfu, Dalian Jinzhouwan and Qingdao Jiaodong in China; Istanbul New Airport in Turkey; Mexico City New International Airport in Mexico; Mopa (Goa) and Navi Mumbai airports in India; the new Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia; Western Sydney Airport in Australia; and Long Thanh International Airport in Vietnam.
While airports in the midst of major capacity enhancing projects include Abu Dhabi (AUH), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dubai (DWC), Jeddah (JED), Los Angeles (LAX), Muscat (MCT), New York- LaGuardia (LGA) and Salt Lake City (SLC).
But as well all know, getting approval for new infrastructure let alone finding the funds to build it, is another story all together.
In the UK, for example, talks continue about the best way to increase Heathrow’s airfield capacity nearly three years after the Airports Commission recommended the construction of a new third runway.
And in the US, ACI-NA president and CEO, Kevin Burke, has called for the Trump Administration to identify a clear funding mechanism to address the significant infrastructure needs of America’s airports.
We take a look at the US’s airport infrastructure needs as well as capacity enhancing IT; airport slots; the global pilot shortage; and airport concessions – which are often used as a strategy to enhance the infrastructure and performance of the world’s gateways – in this ‘capacity crunch’ themed issue.
Also under the microscope in our first issue of 2018 is global airport investor, AviAlliance; cyber security; and retail/F&B innovation. Enjoy!