State of the Industry Report

Almost overnight, the business of airports changed; yet, many past issues linger.


On the topic of slots, McElroy says ACI-NA agrees with its member that is being impacted by the DOT move — the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. “We think the airport is the one that should be doing that,” she says.

Frank Berardino, president of consulting firm GRA, Inc., says the issue of slot allocation is essentially one of property rights. DOT, he says, has basically said that it owns the rights to slots and thereby has the authority to allocate them. That is, since FAA controls the airspace, it controls the slots.

“There are plenty of precedents for auctioning,” says Berardino. In the past, he says, slots were not clearly defined from a property rights standpoint. In the 1990s, the situation got to the point where airlines were selling slot allocations as well as using them for collateral for financing.

Integrated Development

DALLAS — This spring, airports from around the world converged at DFW International Airport for the fifth annual Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition to share their experiences of integrated, regional planning that is today central to their development efforts. In the U.S., airports leading this charge include DFW, Memphis International, and Detroit Metropolitan. Globally, airports in China and the Middle East are taking large-scale integrated approaches to airport-associated development. Here’s a recap of several of these initiatives.

DFW international
John Terrell, VP of commercial development, relates that DFW has a string of new developments underway, including what he calls the largest infrastructure project in Texas history. On the north side, the “connector project” involves recreating the entire highway infrastructure network, affecting up to eight neighboring cities. That is in concert with a metro rail link on DFW’s east side, which will connect the Metroplex to the airport, and subsequently the airport terminals. The station site lies within 2,300 acres that will feature office and retail development.

Other initiatives:

  • Bear Creek Office Park (1,800 acres) on the southwest side, featuring a corporate campus, 36-hole golf course, and a wellness center for airport employees.
  • Passport Park (300 acres), a mixed-use office/retail complex.
  • South Gate Plaza, built adjacent to DFW’s new consolidated rental car facility featuring hotels and restaurants and a skywalk to the rental center.

Memphis international
Larry Cox, CEO of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, says the goal is to make the region around MEM a world model Aerotropolis. “The airport drives the economy,” he says, driven by FedEx and Northwest Airlines and accounting for one in four jobs in the region.

Cox says there is a “culture of collaboration” to create the Aerotropolis, from Beale Street to Graceland to the Convention & Visitors Bureau to St. Jude’s Hospital. Some specifics:

  • Memphis ED — an economic development initiative involving 2,500 business and community leaders, with an investment of $60 million in project management alone.
  • Memphis Airport Area Development Corporation, which is focusing on improving the quality of life for those around the airport and to lure new investment.
  • An ‘airport city’ just south of the airport, integrating the efforts of three states and five counties.

Detroit metro
With the auto manufacturing industry in decline in Detroit, civic leaders are moving to make DTW a world gateway via the Detroit Region Aerotropolis, explains county executive Robert Ficano. The initiative is being coordinated with nearby Willow Run Airport.

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