Expanding Airport Capacity in Large Urban Areas

image of Expanding Airport Capacity in Large Urban Areas

Expanding airport capacity in large metropolitan areas is difficult. Community agreements on noise constrain growth at existing airports. Land prices can be prohibitive for relocating airports. Most new sites require extensive investment in surface transport links to city centres. In multi-airport regions, options for expansion at the airports are to an extent interdependent, complicating assessment of whether to build new runways.

Many major airports are hubs for network carriers at the same time as serving a large local market. The complementarity between these functions may be a prerequisite for viable network operations, suggesting that distributing services over multiple airports instead of expanding the main hub would be costly. Hub airports and their network carriers often compete with hubs in neighbouring regions. The strategies of network carriers and potential new entrants to this part of the market need to be taken into account in assessing future demand for airport capacity. The requirements of low cost and other point-to-point carriers are equally important, but different.

This report reviews international experience in reconciling planning and environmental constraints with demand for airport capacity and the potential benefits in terms of productivity and growth from developing international airline services. Experience is compared in London, New York, Tokyo, Osaka, Sydney and in Germany’s main airports with particular attention to the dynamics of airline markets and implications for airport planning in multi-airport cities.



Expanding airport capacity under constraints in large urban areas

the German experience

International Transport Forum

This paper analyses how German airports have extended capacity. Airport expansion led to conflicts firstly in the sixties. These accelerated in the eighties and are expected to remain in the future, particularly in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart. These conflicts have led to long planning processes (including mediation), demonstrations and court decisions but remained unresolved for many stakeholders. While capacity has not been increased as fast as initially planned, it has been increased substantially at all busy airports, sometimes at high costs like in Frankfurt with the removal of chemical plant and in Berlin with cost overruns of more than two billion. The paper argues that the current planning system has led to avoidable transaction costs and to a too costly and inefficiently used infrastructure with avoidable environmental costs. It discusses the pro and cons of reform proposals such as an independent planning authority separated from the owners of airports, open and transparent planning process, compensation of directly negative effected citizens, mandatory Cost Benefit Analysis, market based environmental policy and reforming the organisational structure of the German airport industry.


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