ACI has published the Airport Economics Survey 2008, 13th edition based on financial data submitted by 565 airports, which together represent 73 percent of traffic worldwide (3.5 billion passengers).
The report focuses on Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean and North America, as the sample reporting from Middle East and Africa was below 50 percent.
Analysis in the Survey covers major facets of airport economics: airport revenue, the split between aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues, capital expenditure, airport employment and the outlook based on current world passenger trends and world freight trends.
Revenue data confirm that airports are focusing on controlling costs, while the rise in capital expenditure indicates that airports continue to prepare for future growth, which is forecast to double in the next 20 years. Capital expenditure commitments leapt from USD 40 billion in 2007 to USD 50 billion in 2008, the biggest annual increase ever, and the large capital programmes underway have pushed up annual spending for depreciation, amortisation and interest (over USD 20 billion in 2007) on top of operating expenses of nearly USD 50 billion.
Worldwide airport revenues reached USD 85 billion, an increase of 10.6 percent when adjusted for currency fluctuations. This figure is in line with passenger growth and global inflation rate. The proportion of non-aeronautical revenues remained constant as compared to 2006 at just over 48 percent of total revenues. Airport employment also remained stable, with 4.3 million employees working on airport sites worldwide – a vital contribution to local economic and social stability.
A related headline figure shows that airports held down airline charges to less than USD 18 billion in 2007 (of the total airline operating cost of USD 488 billion, as reported by IATA), which means that just 3.5% of airline operating costs are associated with airport user charges. These aircraft-related revenues are below actual operating expenses incurred, and therefore passenger fees along with airport non-aeronautical revenues are subsidising the aircraft-related charges.
Gittens comments, "As we all know, the strong results achieved in 2007 contrast sharply to the economic and financial turmoil of 2008. Yet even in today's challenging business climate, airports must respond affirmatively to current and future capacity needs by continuing to shoulder major investment risks. Financing of capital investment can be tough when investors and lenders stand back cautiously. Abruptly declining traffic reduces airport revenues threefold -- lower passenger charges, lower aircraft charges and lower passenger spending at the airport – and puts smaller and regional airports at even greater risk.
"But I remain positive about the aviation outlook. ACI forecasts resurgence in demand within two years, with traffic doubling in the world's airports by 2027. Airports will continue to work closely with their airlines to prepare for the upswing and what that means in terms of adequate capacity and operational needs. On-going diversification, innovation and efficiency gains will ensure that airports remain key facilitators in the re-emergence of global economic growth."