ACI encourages its member airports to continuously improve operational and cost efficiency to moderate the cost of flying and to mitigate intensifying capacity shortfalls, but also to create sufficient rates of return enabling to invest in additional capacity.
Airports are stable providers of infrastructure assets, even in the sometimes turbulent aviation industry. While airports and airlines are intrinsically linked and rely on one another to operate efficiently, they are based on different business models. Airlines are able to move quickly to respond to changes in traffic flows, by leasing or retiring capacity. Airports, on the other hand, must make long-term planning decisions to safeguard capacity sometimes 50 years into the future.
In spite of this, through efficiency gains in operations, staff productivity and venturing into new revenue streams, airports have held user charges at a stable 4% of airline operating costs for over two decades. All the while, airports have invested to meet the needs of a burgeoning aviation industry and developed new business models.
Over the past 30 years, airports have evolved from being simply municipal or Government infrastructure providers into sophisticated and business-oriented service providers. As in every industry the pressure to operate efficiently is constant and arises from customers and stakeholders alike.
In recent years airports have played a critical role in keeping air traffic affordable and stabilising operating costs for airlines. Or, as it was the case after 11 September, 2001 and SARS, airports have shown high flexibility in dealing with their airline's customers to relieve some of the financial pressure they endured.