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NEWS Last modified on May 7, 2015

Debate about collaborative planning brings SMART Airports Conference to a close

The inaugural SMART Airports & Regions Conference & Exhibition in North America drew to a close this afternoon with final sessions on driving non-aeronautical revenue streams and a collaborative planning approach for SMART airports and competitive cities.

Speaking in the latter session, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s community affairs manager, Shelley Lamar, outlined the vision and motivations behind the development of Atlanta’s aerotroplolis plans.

They include the desire to ensure the best use of land around the airport and “good economic development”, creating new jobs and the wish to simply “make the area better”.

She told delegates that working closely with all airport stakeholders as well as with the surrounding communities, economic development agencies and businesses was crucial to the future prosperity of her gateway and its surrounding neighbourhoods.

The collaboration led to the formation of the Airport Area Task Force, which, at times, had up to 100 members and eventually the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, which brought together public and private entities.

She said: “We made a concerted effort to build better relationship with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and local communities. We invited local mayors to meet with us and discussed everything from issues such as housing, health care and noise to land development.

“You have to look outside the fence."


Tourism Richmond CEO, Tracy Lakeman, discussed the international appeal of Richmond, the importance of Vancouver International Airport and role of destination marketing in promoting the region and developing its route network.

Lakeman, whose organisation will co-host next year’s SMART Airports & Regions Conference & Exhibition in Richmond, British Columbia, said: “If you are an airport and you are not working with your CBD or DMO (destination marketing organisation), you should be.”

Earlier in the day delegates had enjoyed sessions on Airport Centric Development – Land Use, Real Estate & Commercial Development; Innovative Airport Design & Development; Sustainable Airports – Leading The Way in Environmental and Commercial Excellence; Air Cargo and Air Service Development; SMART Airports – The Logistics of People & Products; and The Business Case for Choosing The Airport Area as Next Generation Business Locations.

Around 500 delegates, 75 speakers and 40 exhibitors attended the event, which was jointly hosted by the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC).

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