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Aerotropolis: Defined

15 March 2016  •  Author(s): Dr Sarkar

Building the sustainable aerotropolis Dr Sarkar

Airports, like cities, are never static. They are constantly evolving in form and function. Historically, airports have been understood as places where aircraft operate, including runways, control towers, terminals, hangers and other facilities which directly serve aircraft, passengers and cargo. However, this traditional understanding is giving way to a much broader, more encompassing concept known as the ‘Airport City’, which has become the way forward for many airports.

The Airport City model is grounded in the fact that in addition to their core aeronautical infrastructure and services, major airports have developed significant non-aeronautical facilities, services and revenue streams. At the same time they are extending their commercial reach and economic impact well beyond airport boundaries.

Airports have developed over time into key nodes of global production systems; offering speed, agility and connectivity. To increase the speed with which companies are able to respond to customer orders, many warehouse and distribution companies, as well as logistics companies, have located close to airports. And manufacturing companies are now increasingly locating close to airports to minimise the distance between the place of manufacture and the location of transport.

These connected trends have led to the emergence of a new form of airport-centric commercial development called the ‘aerotropolis’, which has transformed ‘city airports’ into ‘airport cities’. The current trend also positions airports as 21st century drivers of business location, urban economic growth and global economic integration – a core objective of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The aerotropolis, like any other traditional city, consists of a central core with rings of development permeating outwards. Unlike a traditional city, however, its core is an airport and all neighbouring development supports and is, in turn, supported by the airport industry.

The aerotropolis is a powerful engine of local economic development; attracting aviation-linked businesses which are keen to get their products to customers around the world. These companies include time-sensitive manufacturing and distribution facilities, hotel and entertainment facilities, retail, convention and exhibition complexes and the eco-tourism industry.

Airports are undeniably vital contributors to a nation’s economy. Key features that are commonly implemented in aviation terminal design include increased natural light, energy-saving bulbs, recycling programmes, green materials and more efficient utility systems. In addition to environmental concerns, however, airports are additionally starting to consider the social and economic implications and opportunities that especially impact the surrounding communities. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), sustainable airports will:

  • Reduce environmental impacts
  • Help maintain high, stable levels of economic growth
  • Help achieve “social progress,” a broad set of actions that ensure organisational goals are achieved in a way that is consistent with the needs and values of the local community.

About the author

After obtaining his Master in Science from the Madras University, and Doctorate Degree in Geochemistry and Earth Sciences from the University of Wales, Dr. A N Sarkar worked for more than four decades in the Petrochemicals-related fields, R& D, Environment, Central Ministries, External Donor Agencies, and Academics. He served as a Chair Professor-National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development (NABARD); Professor, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies.

More recently, Dr. Sarkar has worked as a Senior Professor (International Business) and Dean (Research) in the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He has also served as convener and member secretaries in various Inter-Ministerial Committees on ‘Natural Resources Management’, ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Renewable Energy’. Dr. Sarkar has so far authored 22 Books and more than 100 research papers, published in reputed national and international journals.

His books include: Energy Security, Global Climate Change & Sustainable Energy Development, Emission Trading & Carbon Management and Petro-Economics (Pentagon Press, New Delhi); Global Climate Economics (LAP, Publishing Corporation, Germany); CSR in Mining Industry (LAP, Publishing Corporation, Germany), Green Banking, Microfinance, Eco-Industrial Clusters (Atlantic Publishing House), Environmental Economics, Energy, Environment and Global Climate Economics (Discovery Publishing).

Click here to contact Dr Sarkar.

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