Imagine for a second that you live in New York city and that you need to travel Los Angeles. But here’s the catch, there is no such thing as airports. What would you do? Would you choose to hop on a train for four days, drive 3 days in a rental car, or take a boat across the panama canal? Or would you just not bother with the trip anymore?
Evidently, airports are quite important in connecting not just the two coasts of the US, but also the entire world. Today, we will briefly discuss why we need airports.
Airports are much more than places to catch planes, attend an in-transit business meeting, or do some duty-free shopping; they are among the largest investments a city and region can make. They are also an important part in the development of the community that it’s located in.
Airports help transfer passengers from one place to another. Furthermore, they allow the cities of which they are located to increase their tourism flow and incoming capital. A great example of this is the Dubai International Airport DXB.
Dubai International, often a stopover point for journeys between Europe and Asia as well as the major hub airport for people in India or Africa, currently holds the title of being the busiest airport in the world and witnessed 70 million passengers last year alone. That’s 6% more than the year before and brings the number of international passengers that the airport dealt with up to around 33 times the national population of Dubai.
Dubai has also recently opened Al Maktoum International, which when complete, will have five runways and a capacity for 160 million passengers a year. By 2020, it’s estimated that aviation will contribute $53 billion to the country’s economy, representing 37.5 percent of the GDP and supporting 750,000 jobs.
Airports are gradually undertaking projects catered to their communities’ main sources of revenues.
Moreover, Airports can sometimes help in lifting communities out of poverty. This is the case of Marsical Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador, and its Nuestra Huerta (Our Garden) programme that bids to integrate small agricultural producers and support internal commercialisation in the community. It also involves training for procedures including agricultural and manufacturing practices, industrial safety, social responsibility, entrepreneurship and innovation and is now finally starting to take shape.
Kenya’s example is equally relevant. “In Kenya, horticulture is the fastest growing sector and is ranked third after tourism and tea as a foreign exchange earner,”
Here, the cut flower industry generates more than 100,000 jobs, annually generating some $1bn in foreign exchange. “More than 90% of fresh horticultural products are transported by air freight. Flowers picked in Kenya in the morning are able to reach markets in Amsterdam by evening.”
Airports have evolved from infrastructure providers to complex businesses that produce considerable commercial development well beyond their perimeters.