WORLD ROUTES: Models for the Future - How do Airport Cities and City Airports Differ?

Panellists during one session of the World Routes Strategy Summit titled, ‘Airports – Models for the future’ discussed the differences between Airport Cities and City Airports as moderator Aaron Heslehurst from BBC World generated debate on how airports utilised their land and involved their local communities.

John Martin, airport director at San Francisco International Airport, said that the Californian gateway was a city airport, reflecting its municipality and requiring local support, a view echoed by Chicago Department of Aviation’s commissioner, Rosemarie Andolino, who agreed the same situation held for O’Hare International Airport.

She continued to explain how O’Hare’s borders were surrounded by industrial buildings, entertainment facilities, golf, shopping centres and housing. “There’s a benefit for both parties,” she said. “The airport continues to grow and the surrounding communities benefit from more people visiting the city.”

Conversely, Khalfan Said AlShueili, general manager – readiness at Oman Airports Management Company, said that Muscat International is on its way to becoming an Airport City. “The airport was 40km from the city and now it’s centralised,” he explained.

John ‘Jack’ Kasarda, director of the centre for air commerce at the University of North Carolina, had an interesting analogy for today’s industry. He said: “The digital internet moves data efficiently over long distances. Air routes move people and products over long distances quickly and efficiently. Air routes are the physical internet and the airport is the router. It serves as a key note, sorting the people and the products. In this way, it becomes a business magnet, attracting time-critical businesses of all types.”

He continued: “Airport cities serve the broader region, offering local, national and global connectivity. For example, many people could argue that Dubai and Singapore are airports with city states attached!”

However, Lee Seow Hiang, Changi Airport Group’s chief executive officer, simply smiled: “I can’t speak for the world, but for Singapore, it is just survival – you have no choice!”

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…