The Aeortropolis concept links airlines, airports and the community together to help turn airports into more than just a place to land.
Recently, the Aerotropolis concept has started to gain traction among some. The idea is not new, but is based upon the principles of transit-oriented development and applied at a global scale. The concept creates efficiencies in land use planning around transit nodes. As the exchange of information becomes globally integrated, the predominant methods of transport used are changing to reflect this. Just as highways were the main drivers of urban development in the 20th century, and railroads in the 19th century, airports are becoming the main determinants of business location and growth in the 21st century. In 2011, Time Magazine named the Aerotropolis “One of the Ten Ideas that Will Change the World.”
Airports are traditionally seen as the link between airlines and a region,the first location a traveller visits when they arrive at their destination. Without effective land use planning, airports and the airport region generally don’t paint a positive image of a city. Through the Aerotropolis concept, airports become the destination.
As technology reduces the significance of distance, airports become more than interchange locations. They become regional centres for business, trade, education, logistics, housing, leisure and recreation. As a result, it is not uncommon to see corporate and commercial office space, retail shop fronts, hotels, theme parks, golf courses and exhibitions centres in close proximity to new airports.
What constitutes an Aerotropolis?
An Aerotropolis is made up of three main components: the airlines, the airport and the region. The concept links these three components together and capitalises on their positive attributes to amplify economic growth and create business opportunity around the airport.
Airlines connect markets. Airline routes are developed depending on the volume of air traffic, including goods and passengers, which move between markets. Globalisation, with its reduction of barriers to international trade, plays a leading role in expansion of airlines with over 25 per cent of world trade and goods being transported by air.
Airports are the physical location where the exchange of goods and services takes place. As the amount of air travel and movement of product increases each year and the consumer population of airports increases, airports are positioned at the centre of the economic development of the wider region.
The region surrounding the airport provides the reason that people are drawn to the area. This is where the economic activity that funds the growth of the airlines and the airport occurs. Development is fuelled by increased global connectivity through proximity to the airport and links to other markets in the region.
An Aerotropolis is at the centre of globalisation and increased connectivity. Just as railways and highways connect people regionally, airports connect people globally. Through technological development, opportunities have arisen to globally integrate different markets to reduce costs in the production process. Six different companies manufacture the iPhone 6 across the world; the smart phone has become the definition of global integration.
The rate of global connectivity is increasing exponentially. The Aerotropolis concept capitalises on this to create an environment that increases competition and will lead to reduced costs and positive economic growth on all three components: the airlines, the airport and the region.
What is the physical form of an Aerotropolis?
The physical form of an Aerotropolis reflects the needs of stakeholders and the market demand. Airports today present much more than aviation infrastructure. The built form of the airport and the wider Aerotropolis is made up different components serving business and leisure uses.
Within the airport, the Aerotropolis typically constitutes retail, food and leisure activities, logistics and air cargo facilities, and short-term business and office space. The airside component of the Aerotropolis is designed to serve the immediate needs of the airlines and those using them. Land uses adjacent to the airport are made up of hotels, entertainment, higher education and commercial office space to serve those staying longer.
Outside of the immediate airport city, the wider Aerotropolis typically takes the form of spine roads and clusters forming along transportation corridors stretching up to 30 kilometres out. The economic impact of the airport has been measured up to 90 kilometres from the airport in some instances. Warehouse and logistics-based businesses are still located within close proximity to the airport, but they do not define the predominant style of land use.