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In the spotlight: Airport Cities

Airports: Helsinki & Toluca

Special report: ASQ Winners

Plus: Airport design, retail & IT innovation



Back to the future

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, looks forward to the upcoming Airport Cities World Conference in Ekurhuleni and the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Conference & Exhibition in Phuket.

Although the term ‘airport city’ is relatively new, I have personally considered airports to be mini-cities in their own right ever since I began working at one 30 years ago.

This could be due to the fact that in my first weeks as a trainee journalist at Heathrow I attended a meeting with 4,000 cabin crew; got introduced to the airport’s chaplain (the Rev Harry Burlton); got drunk at the Control Tower Bar; met Kim Basinger and visited the morgue; well, at least the dedicated place set aside to store bodies in the event of a disaster!

Later liaisons with Heathrow’s emergency services (I once went out on a training exercise with a team of fire fighters that involved racing around the old Perry Oaks Sludge Works in a dinghy just in case an aircraft crashed landed into it) and countless visits to airline offices, hotels, pubs, sports grounds and, of course, the dedicated press room, only served to reinforce my conviction that Heathrow is indeed a city.

Crikey, it even had its own bylaws, newspaper, Skyport (at which I spent four happy years) and its own annual beauty pageants – Mr and Miss Heathrow Airport!

For these reasons, I had no trouble accepting the airport city concept when it was first mooted or the idea of the ‘aerotropolis’ – new urban areas developed around airports. Airports are, after all, huge economic generators for cities, regions and, sometimes, entire nations, so it makes perfect sense to me that businesses/commerce would gravitate towards them.

The word ‘aerotropolis’ was actually coined by Dr John Kasarda, director of the Center for Air Commerce at the University of Carolina’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, so it is only fitting that he writes the introduction to the themed ‘airport cities’ section of this issue.

The section also includes features about Malaysia’s airport city plans and global investment strategy; retail development; the creation of a ‘space coast’ in Florida; and ambitious projects at Belo Horizonte and Warsaw Chopin.

The other big ACI event in April is the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference & Exhibition in Phuket, Thailand, where delegates will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s gateways and the key role airports play in driving economic development.

I am certainly looking forward to it and leaving Europe’s wintery weather behind for a few days!

In light of the event, this issue also contains ACI’s latest medium-term forecast for the Asia-Pacific region, a special report on Asia-Pacific’s LCCs, and a Project Watch feature on Hong Kong International Airport.

And if that’s not enough, we also report on ACI’s 2012 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards – dominated again by Asia-Pacific airports – and learn more about the innovative use of light and sound in airport terminals; Heathrow’s social media strategy; and the latest global IT trends.

Next up after Ekurhuleni and Phuket is the small matter of the ACI Europe/World Annual Conference & Exhibition in Istanbul.

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun?


In this issue:





Money talks

Joe Bates looks back at some of the highlights of the recent ACI Airport Economics and Finance Conference in Singapore.

ACI news

View from the top

ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, looks forward to the joint ACI Europe/World Annual Congress & Exhibition in Istanbul.

Mexican wave

Toluca International Airport has experienced its share of highs and lows in recent years, but resurgent passenger traffic and expansion plans point to a new sense of optimism, reports Oliver Clark.

Quality hunter

Steven Thompson discovers that communicating with customers is key for Helsinki Airport as it aims to enhance its facilities and increase its appeal.

Airport cities: The evolution

Airport cities guru, Dr John Kasarda, reports on the growing worldwide phenomenon, the rise of the aerotropolis and their increasing economic importance.

Investing in airports

Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid, managing director of Malaysia Airports, talks to Joe Bates about Kuala Lumpur’s airport city plans and his company’s 16 years as a global airport investor.

Space odyssey

Alex Hannaford finds out more about Melbourne International Airport’s aerospace ambitions as Florida’s self-proclaimed ‘Space Coast’ bids to reinvent itself after the end of NASA’s space shuttle programme.

In pole position

Lidia Maczynska reports on Warsaw Chopin’s ambitious plans to develop Poland’s first airport city.

Outlet retail

Creating Outlet Shopping Centres is potentially one of the most commercially successful ways of leveraging the airport location, writes Chris LeTourneur.

A tale of two airports

Dr John Kasarda reports on the impressive recovery of Belo Horizonte’s Tancredo Neves Airport, and how it went from a traffic nadir to a thriving international gateway.

Light and sound show

Tina Milton discovers more about the increasingly sophisticated ambience- enhancing techniques being adopted by airports and the potential commercial and operational benefits.

Top of the class

Asia-Pacific airports win the top five global awards in ACI’s annual customer satisfaction survey, writes Joe Bates.

Concessions news

Airport World reviews some of the latest retail and F&B projects and developments across the globe.

Smart thinking

Airport World reviews SITA’s Flying Into The Future report on IT innovation in the air transport industry.

Being social

Marc Ellams, head of passenger communications at Heathrow, talks to Steven Thompson about the gateway’s approach to social media.

Where next for Asia’s low-cost airlines? 

Low-cost carriers have only scratched the surface of their potential within Asia, argues Gordon Bevan of ASM.

Thinking 3D

Nigel Rees discusses the merits of utilising Building Information Management (BIM) and 3D crowd simulation software to design new terminals and ensure airports make maximum use of existing facilities.

Project watch

Hong Kong International Airport.

Environment news

ACI’s World Business Partners

ACI traffic trends

The last word

Joe Bates gets up close and personal with sports psychologist and leadership expert, Dr Gregory Dale.

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