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   Vol. 15  No. 54
Tuesday July 19, 2016

All About Airports: Airports Beyond Flights & Tons

CNS Field Of Dreams

      Here is Part Two of our year-long series focusing on airports. The following are some suggestions about what airports can do to better serve the industry, specifically directed to airport operators worldwide.
      Yes, FlyingTypers is presenting a series that goes beyond the norm for editorial about airports. We’re asking airport operators to talk about what they are doing in 2016 to advance their business.
      While highlighting the airports, our motivation is to open the conversation to involve everyone.
      If you are an airport, what are you doing about it?
      If you are an airline or forwarder, what can airports do to better serve the need?
      Write to me and have your voice heard.
      Here is a link to the first story in our series.
      We hope to hear from you soon.

If Unique Is What You Seek

      An airport’s never-ending quest to remain a self-sustaining enterprise has driven their owners and operators to seek unique ways to enhance both aviation and non-aviation revenues.
      During the past few decades, many commercial airports have modified agreements with their airline partners in order to claim a more substantial portion of revenues generated. In turn, airports have gone beyond traditional sources to leverage lucrative food and beverage, retail, car rental, ground transportation, communication and technology services, fuel sales and flowage fees, and parking and advertising agreements with their business partners.
      Others have found assets unique to their situation or geography, such as underground petroleum, natural gas deposits, or simply the decision to offer in-house ground handling or FBO services, all of which offer the financial flexibility and independence an airport needs to be financially sound.

No Two Airports Are Alike

      Airport business models can vary, given available resources, political climate, and the need for diversified revenue streams, but one constant for airports of all sizes is to provide the infrastructure for air transport to connect people and goods to the world’s resources and markets.
      For that very reason, airports play a critical role in the area’s transportation system. Most, if not all, act as multi-modal facilities, connecting air transport to ground-based road, rail, and/or marine facilities. Many connect to major transportation arteries, providing unique opportunities in support of moving people and products worldwide.

Definitions Matter

      Logistics is defined as the planning, implementation, and coordination of the details of a business or other operation.
      Although some may see this as an overly simplistic way to explain a complex operation, it is evident airports play a major role in helping entities plan and complete their logistical process(es).
      Not every corner of the earth can produce major quantities of goods sought worldwide, nor can every airport be a major air cargo center.
However, in our global economy, most people and businesses are consumers of things that originate elsewhere and, in many cases, are somewhere far away. Airports are the means of bringing those goods to locations near us, whether that means they arrive on hundreds of flights a day or, in more remote regions, by one piston-powered aircraft a month.

Major To Minor Note Cargo

      So your airport isn’t a major or even a moderate air cargo center… now what? Start by thinking about what your airport provides for your community and where it is located in relation to other modes of transportation, infrastructure, population centers, or even other countries and continents.
      Air cargo operators are unique businesses, but have similar needs like any other company.
      It is in this arena where your airport might be able to help support the industry beyond moving tons of product on multiple wide-body airplanes.       In fact, you may already be supporting air cargo in ways you don’t even realize.
      Land leases, both aviation and non-aviation, are just another way airports have been able to add revenue to their bottom line and, given the large air cargo industry worldwide, there are many opportunities to offer something more than just traditional air freight facilities.


      Airports with substantial non-aviation lands can offer space for build-to-suit warehousing and sort facilities, often with room to grow such operations as the business matures.
      Given the multi-modal nature of airports, proximity to county, state, and interstate highways, rail lines and seaports make many airports a perfect location for unique facilities.
      Some airports have existing infrastructure, such as buildings that can be repurposed, as well roadways, utility corridors, parking lots, etc., to keep development costs low. Other airports have also invested in available parcels, making them “pad-ready”, which allows for faster and less complicated development timelines with much of the zoning and permitting in place.
      The lease-versus-buy nature of airport land allows potential tenants the ability to lock in lengthy terms without having to outlay money for land acquisition, which is another consideration for companies watching their cash flow.
      Concurrently, airports with aviation land available or land connected to the airfield, e.g., taxiways and runways, in-house or third-party maintenance, and repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities for aircraft operators of all sizes can be accommodated.

Southwest Florida Success

      For example, Southwest Florida International Airport successfully partners with an air cargo operator by allowing pre-service aircraft staging of their wide-body freighters on a former terminal apron, which offers ease of access at pre-negotiated rates.
      Along these same lines, aircraft conversion centers specializing in converting passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft need aviation facilities to perform their work.
      Given the mobile nature of airplanes, these types of facilities can be anywhere in the world and often end up in areas not driven by cargo tons, but by a specially trained and skilled workforce.

Recognizing Opportunities

      Air cargo companies also need headquarters and regional support space to conduct their “behind-the- scenes” administrative work.
      Once again, airports with non-aviation lands or repurposed facilities can provide low-cost alternatives for these functions. From finance, sales and marketing, communications, business development, governmental affairs, information systems, human resources and contract management to crew scheduling, dispatch, training, flight ops, etc., people in traditional office settings need a home.
      A commercial airport with adequate, nonstop flights to major national and worldwide destinations might be the perfect spot for an air cargo company on the move.

Adaptive Reuse Accompanies Change

      At Southwest Florida International Airport, a 2005 move to a new terminal complex opened up more than 1,200 acres of aviation and non-aviation land for development.
      Branded as Skyplex and equipped with roadways, parking, and utilities, this is the type of opportunity an airport can turn into a long-term investment for a cargo corporate office.

The Imaginative Way Ahead

       As you can see, there are numerous ways to support air cargo at your airport.
      Cargo facilities that include air freight buildings and aircraft ramps are important and should be part of any airport master plan; however, don’t sell yourself or your airport short when considering the different ways you can support the air cargo industry and all it has to offer. Concentrate on the key strengths of your airport and your community and design a plan to capitalize on those assets.
      Set your sights beyond the number of air cargo flights and tons being transported through your airport.
      You might be surprised to find out you are already supporting air cargo in ways you never envisioned!

To Read Part I Of This Series Click Below
Airport Truck Queues Thwart Cargo Growth
Click To Read More
Atlanta Activates Truck Staging
Click To Read More
If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
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