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What business are airports really in?

April 15, 2021

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By Rian Burger

In the Journal of Airport Management, Rian Burger considers why airports may want to innovate towards a more resilient business model

Most airports have an elevated vulnerability to aviation market fluctuations. This has been emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic, as most airports have experienced large traffic downturns. This led airports to cut operational costs, shelf major capital programs, and shutter swathes of terminal infrastructure. The crisis made it clear that airports typically had very little alternative income to use to stay afloat during such events, leading Senior Principal Rian Burger to ask if the airport business could benefit from diversification.

In considering this question, Rian realized that the airport business as we know it today might also be in danger of major disruption within the next decade. In this paper for the Journal of Airport Management, Rian and co-author Brandon Orr argue that it might be time for airports to reassess their business model by asking the question: “What business are we really in?” The paper offers a range of ideas aimed at encouraging airport authorities to reassess their strategic plans and innovate towards a more resilient and sustainable business model that is integrated with their surrounding communities and regions, while staying ahead of the evolution of the mobility market.

This paper was originally published by Henry Stewart Publications in Volume 15, No. 2 (spring 2021 edition) of the Journal for Airport Management.

  • Rian Burger

    Leading our Airports business in Toronto, Rian is an aviation architect with a focus on terminal design, planning, and programming.

    Contact Rian
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