What do you know about airports?

A lot of you might think that airports are just buildings that you go through before you board your plane that operates your flight to your destination. Actually, airports are more complicated than this, in fact airports might be considered to be recognized as full industries! In today’s article we will be briefing some interesting facts about airports that you might have been unaware about.

Historically

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In the very early days of aviation, airport locations were chosen out of convenience; pilots would take off and land at a beach, farm, or farmer’s field as long as it were flat and located nearby. However after the evolvement of aviation during the World Wars it became a necessity to have airports with resources (such as fuels) and reliable infrastructure (such as strong, durable runway surfaces).

In the 1950s, air travel was an increasingly popular method of transportation, thus airports had to evolve, so during this time airports built its very first passenger terminals.

Then the 1960s airports started to adapt the beginning of the jet planes’ age – larger planes that’s able to fly for longer distances, by building longer runways and jet-bridge systems that enables the loading and unloading of passengers from the terminal to an aircraft, without the passenger going outside.

Economically

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With more than 41’800 airports around the world, used for military, airline, and general aviation, airports do indeed provide direct and indirect job opportunities all around the globe. Before the novel corona virus appeared, 450 thousand people worked for airport operators while 5.5 million worked in jobs directly linked to airports – such as customs and immigration, retail outlets in airports, and catering, among many others.

Moreover, the economic impacts of airports extend beyond transportation-related jobs. Airports also create indirect jobs linked with infrastructure development and the required supply-chain – such as tourism, ground transportation, logistics, and fuels. In other words, airports serve to associate local economies with international market.

Internationally Standardizing – Time & Location

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Flight schedule Board editorial image. Image of fukuoka – 29864590

As there are different time zones all around the world, airports must rely on international standards linked with time and location, so to ensure consistency and harmonization. International aviation operations use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the location references of latitude, longitude and mean sea level.

Operationally

The structure of any airport is divided into two parts or sides:

  1. The Landside – is the unrestricted area of the airport that is open to public (it includes roadways for vehicle traffic, parking lots, and the area of the terminal that’s used for airline check-in and baggage drop-off), this area ends at the security checkpoint within the terminal.
  2. The Airside – is the secured area, only individuals with boarding passes or an airport security identification card are permitted to enter this side. It includes the secure part of the terminal, the apron; where planes park for loading and unloading, and the taxi and runway surfaces.

When passengers arrive, they first go through the airside by passing the customs or immigrations then they leave the secured side of the airport and are transmitted to the landside.

These were some interesting information about airports in general, surely there are more and more facts about airports that we might be talking about in other articles here in Aviation for Aviators!


Sources

Article: Fundamentals of International Aviation book by Suzanne K. Kearns

Cover photo: Unknown