Volume 15 (2020-2021)

Each volume of Journal of Airport Management consists of four 100-page issues published in both print and online. Articles scheduled for Volume 15 are available to view on the Forthcoming content page.

The Articles published in Volume 15 include:

Volume 15 Number 1

  • Editorial
    Simon Beckett, Publisher
  • Practice papers
    Thoughts on the post-pandemic new normal in air travel
    Jim Robinson, Managing Director, Pegasus Aviation Advisors

    The COVID-19 pandemic will compel permanent transformation of the travel industry and its aviation sector. Key disruptors emerging from the pandemic will include: Behavioural changes of the traveling public; increased fear of contracting the virus during travel; continued uncertainty as to when an effective vaccine will be available, if ever; severe global economic downturn; and revised procedures to be introduced at airports and onboard aircraft that increase the inconvenience of air travel. While the immediate effects of the pandemic may be temporary, interaction with more strategic factors, such as globalisation and the digital economy, could result in disruption of the air travel sector. Issues addressed in this paper include: Aviation-industry recovery and changes to the business model; need for regulatory change; inherent uncertainty in forecasting; and impact on airport operations and development. This paper explores the impact of these factors and how they could permanently transform the air travel industry, and how the trends of global digitalisation present a unique opportunity to reinvent the entire aviation sector business model as well as the end-to-end travel experience. To achieve this will require meaningful collaboration of the digital technology and air transport sectors to drive innovation and transformational change in response to this challenge for society.
    Keywords: digital, transformation, passenger, experience, trusted, platform

  • Utility cost savings helping airports in a pandemic
    Charles F. Marshall, Airport Engineering Manager, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    COVID-19 is impacting health, economics and operations around the world. As airports consider strategies to be resilient from this worldwide event, utility cost-savings projects are still tools to support this effort. Some airports are demonstrating that utility-savings projects work in different settings and locations. In addition to reducing energy and water costs, these projects also support sustainability efforts by reducing emissions and supporting other sustainability and resiliency goals. This paper presents some examples of how some airports are achieving this.
    Keywords: COVID-19, energy, water, savings, projects, sustainability, resilience

  • Effective project leadership and culture, under stay-home orders
    Bob Bolton, Director of Airport Design and Construction, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

    The impact of COVID-19 has changed all of our lives and caused the global decline of aviation activity. The development/replacement of airport facilities and infrastructure, which was on a path to meet prior record travel demand and the need to replace ageing facilities, is now in jeopardy of moving forwards because of drastically reduced revenue streams, as the result of a substantial reduction in passenger volumes. Many airports are trying to decide if they should continue to advance design and construction activities or hold short and see how fast it takes historic operations to return. This paper discusses how, if things remain in flux, we will not finish building the infrastructure that is required to be in service when aviation returns to the levels we knew prior to 2020. It analyses how, if your airport had a gate shortage in 2019, there will likely be a similar projected condition in 2024. The paper stipulates how, while optimistically planning for the end of this global episode, airport operators can take advantage of this slow time and position facilities to meet the increased demand forecasted for aviation services. Airports around the world should decide when they could vigilantly advance development plans, supported by the airlines. Airport leaders must take action on an effective project delivery programme, managed by a team focused on partnerships for optimum results. High-performing teams are now required to collaborate and innovate remotely, holding virtual meetings and telecommuting on a grand scale, while handling the challenges of a world that is changing every day. Leaders and frontline managers must seize this opportunity and turn a challenging truth into a positive path to the development of a high-performing team, one that is capable of navigating for success for the future.
    Keywords: airports, forecasted, development, culture, leadership, challenged, accountability, hybrid

  • The airport ground-transportation industry during COVID-19
    Ray A. Mundy, Executive Director, AGTA

    The purpose of this paper is to describe the airport ground-transportation industry as the integral third leg comprising the airline, airport, ground-transportation industry; the impact of COVID-19 on its operations; and how the industry is repositioning itself for the future. The paper also depicts the positive growth many of these operators were having prior to the COVID-2019 pandemic, and the types of traffic congestion along with financial concerns that were being addressed by North American airports. Like many transportation industries, airport ground transportation is comprised of asset-based and asset-light operators. The differences in the capabilities of these operators during this period of little-to-no demand are explained. Having these different capabilities will dictate the speed at which these different operations may gear back up to serve the airline travelling public. The paper also details the disproportional number of industry drivers affected by the virus and the financial difficulties many drivers are having in this industry. Also detailed are what operators are doing to provide safe operations for their drivers and their passengers. Furthermore provided are recommended guidelines for ground operators to follow in creating a safe environment for their drivers and their passengers. Finally, the paper looks to the future and how airports and ground-transportation operators might use this downtime to plan and implement improved services as the economy rebounds to pre-2020 levels.
    Keywords: airport ground transportation, taxis, TNCs, airport parking

  • Case studies
    The effect of COVID-19 on Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and resumption of operations
    Scott M. Ayers, Aviation Safety Management System Manager in the Department of Aviation Safety Management and Derrick Crawley, Fire Safety Program Manager, Department of Aviation, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new invisible workplace hazard into our airport environment. In response, our management team applied a systematic approach in developing strategies to minimise risks and impacts to this imminent threat. Extensive efforts were focused on amending our emergency planning and continuity of airport operations to facilitate and support airline and concessionaire’s service levels. This paper discusses how, while developing our facility pandemic response plan and restoration strategies, our management team has integrated various safety-management principles, such as policy, safety assurances, communication and risk-management approaches, to reduce and mitigate employee and passenger risk and exposure. As we look towards a vaccine and recovery, our safety resiliency improved with more proactive actions including continuity of business operations, technology enhancements, online training, teleworking, virtual meetings and stakeholder collaborations and building a robust, resilient, active Safety Management System adaptive to any emergency such as COVID-19.
    Keywords: COVID-19, safety, response, communication, emergency

  • Effects of COVID-19-related air traffic restrictions on local air quality at Zurich airport
    Emanuel Fleuti, Head of Environment, Flughafen Zürich AG

    This paper discusses the efforts of authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to restrictions in people’s mobility with significant impacts on air traffic operations worldwide. Zurich airport has experienced a drop of 91 per cent in aircraft movements from February to April 2020. The decrease in activity has led to a decrease in local emissions of 83 per cent for NOx, while NO2 concentrations at and around the airport decreased by only 50 per cent. Ultrafine particle numbers show similar values. The analysis further took into account the change in regional road traffic and the meteorology for comparable periods in 2019 and 2020, before and during the crisis.
    Keywords: air traffic, airport, local air quality, emissions, impacts, COVID-19

  • Geneva Airport in 2020 and beyond: Validating our strategy to develop a sustainable airport and maintaining this in the new normal
    André Schneider, CEO, Geneva Airport

    How can airports today find the right balance between accommodating the demand for air travel, the needs of airlines, and also address a framework that imposes more and more constraints on the environmental impact of the airport’s activities? We will present the results after 3 years of implementing our strategy to address this in the context of Geneva Airport, a 17.9-million passenger airport in Switzerland. We will also discuss the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and how we will move ahead.
    Keywords: COVID-19, airport strategy, sustainable development, licence to operate

  • Research paper
    Effects of the COVID-19 crisis on airport investment grades and implications for debt financing
    Hans-Arthur Vogel, Professor of Aviation Management, International University of Applied Sciences, Bad Honnef-Bonn

    While a rich body of literature on airport performance has been established during the last three decades, significantly less attention has been given to related financing aspects — although these are directly influencing the cost structure of an airport, thus affecting financial performance. This paper discusses bond financing as one of the funding options of an airport company and how it is impacted on by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the law of risk and return, the price (interest) which the issuer needs to pay to raise money in the capital markets correlates to its risk profile as reflected by an investment grade. Such bond ratings are opinions assigned by credit rating agencies of the creditworthiness of the issuer’s debt. Globally reputable examples are Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Service and Standard & Poor’s. The black swan COVID-19 brought air transportation to a standstill and keeps eroding credit metrics of airlines and airports. This study is comparing the credit ratings of 113 airports per year end 2019 vs investment grades assigned during the first semester 2020 (1H20). Comparable to the global financial crisis 2008/09, the number of downgrades has been limited, with most actions resulting in a one notch decrease. Privately owned airport operators have been concerned higher-than-average. The negative outlook, however, almost affected the entire sector. Investment grades appear to be more stable than share prices, which seem to be more volatile and to trigger rating actions. Nevertheless, the cost of capital for the bond financed share of debt tends to go up according to the risk and return trade-off.
    Keywords: bond financing, rating agencies, rating rational, credit rating, COVID-19, pandemic

  • ACI Update