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Proposed Guidebook: Incorporating Economic Concepts into Airport System Planning


Dramatic changes in commercial air service and in General Aviation in the United States are altering the roles of airports. Airlines are pulling out of smaller airports, eliminating connecting hubs and generally holding down growth in service. At the same time, there has been fairly steady growth in fractional and Part 135 commercial flying especially in support of business interests needing to reach smaller markets. These trends and other changes in the industry make airport system planning (state, regional or metropolitan) an increasingly important activity. As summarized in Part 150-5070-7: The primary purpose of airport system planning is to study the performance and interaction of an entire aviation system to understand the interrelationship of the member airports. The system evaluated in the plan can be the airports of a metropolitan area, a state, or several bordering states. The effort involves examining the interaction of the airports with the aviation user requirements, economy, population, and surface transportation of a specific geographic area.(emphasis added)

While the current AC mentions economics, other than talking briefly about economic impacts, it does not layout any methods to be used in undertaking the planning using economic concepts.

The proposed project would remedy this situation by developing a Guidebook for planners that would indicate how best to use economic concepts and data to assist in decision-makers in making trade-offs between projects at different projects that are inevitably in system plans. One might argue that these types of trade-offs are inherently economic and so it is appropriate to develop such information for decision-makers.

An example of the application of an economic concept for a regional plan would be whether to prioritize a runway extension at an airport when another nearby airport already has a sufficiently long runway and available capacity and ancillary facilities. What are the economic benefits and costs to be identified and applied in this situation? What if there are external effects –e.g. the proposed extension might cause some operators to move from a congested hub airport and thus reduce commercial delays?


To develop a Guidebook to incorporate economic concepts and data into airport system plans.

Related Research:

ACRP Report 98: Understanding Airline and Passenger Choice in Multi-Airport Regions

ACRP Report 76: Addressing Uncertainty About Future Airport Activity Levels in Airport Decision-Making

ACRP Report 49: Collaborative Airport Capital Planning Handbook

ACRP Report 48: Impact of Jet Fuel Price Uncertainty on Airport Planning and Development

ACRP Report 31: Innovative Approached to Addressing Aviation Capacity Issues in Coastal Mega-Regions

ACRP Report 20: Strategic Planning in the Airport Industry

Sponsoring Committee:AV020, Aviation System Planning
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Date Posted:12/12/2015
Date Modified:03/09/2016
Index Terms:Economic conditions, Economics, General aviation airports, Airport operations, Guidelines, Regional airlines, Regional planning, Hubs,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Planning and Forecasting

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