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Focus on: Global airport operators

Airport report: Charlotte Douglas

Special report: 
Investing in LaGuardia

IT innovation, security & people matters

Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on how airports continue to attract investors from around the world.

Anyone in any doubt about the global appeal of aviation and the world’s airports just needs to turn to the ‘A-Z of global airport operators’ feature in this issue to realise that the desire to own, operate or have shares in airports has never been stronger.


Indeed, our comprehensive listing of companies that either own, operate or have stakes in airports outside of their own countries has never been bigger or more global.

It comprises 24 global airport operators from 20 different countries that include traditional airport operators that have exported their expertise internationally, such as Frankfurt and Groupe ADP, specialist investors like MIRA, and companies specifically set up to own and operate airports, such as VINCI Airports.

New additions to the list since our last ‘A-Z of global airport operators’ featured in early 2015 include Mexico’s Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR), Aeroporti di Roma’s majority shareholder, Atlantia, Brazil’s CCR Group and Edeis, which has acquired the airport assets of SNC-Lavalin.

For what it’s worth, our research shows that the highest number of truly global airport operators have their headquarters in France (Edeis, Egis, Groupe ADP and VINCI Airports) and Germany (AviAlliance and Fraport).

The big deals of 2017 to date have included Fraport AG being awarded concessions to operate Fortaleza and Porto Alegre airports in Brazil; Groupe ADP increasing its shareholding in TAV Airports to 46.12%; ASUR taking a controlling stake in San Juan–Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico; Zurich Airport being awarded the concession to operate and expand Hercílio Luz International Airport in the city of Florianópolis in southern Brazil; and a Changi Airports International (CAI) led consortium being named as the winning bidder for the 20-year concession to operate Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia.

There is, of course, no one size fits all solution for airports in terms of ownership models, as ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, reminds us in her ‘View from the top’ article on page 11 of this ‘global airport operators’ themed issue.

ACI is also quick to point out that it doesn’t favour one particular form of ownership model over another, as what works for one airport, region or country might not work in another.

Its research reveals that some 614 airports globally have some form of private sector participation today. Trailblazers, in this regard, are Europe and the Latin America-Caribbean region where 75% and 60% of passengers respectively travel through airports with private stakeholders.

In the publication, The Ownership of Europe’s Airports 2016, ACI Europe’s director general, Olivier Jankovec, states: “Today, over 40% of European airports have at least some private shareholders – and these airports handle the lion’s share of air traffic.

“This continued business transformation of airports is at its most intense within the EU-28 Member States – and with a number of privatisations in the pipeline, it is only a matter of time before fully publically owned airports become a minority in the EU.”

He also notes that there would probably always be some degree of ‘public involvement’, and not only at the smallest airports, which act as a lifeline for their regional communities and are often structurally unprofitable, but also at the largest gateways that are strategically essential assets for national economies.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the featured airport in this issue. We also turn the spotlight on LaGuardia Gateway Partners; the global importance of tourism; commercial land development around airports; IT innovation; and security. Who said nothing happened during the summer months?

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