The Aerotropolis model, where airports are treated as key 21st-century drivers of business location and urban economic growth, is increasingly being incorporated into the competitive strategies of metropolitan regions around the world. The success stories of major existing Aerotropolises such as those at and around Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Dubai, Incheon, and Memphis airports have received considerable media attention. The model is likewise generating growing interest among airport operators and local governments in how to better leverage their airports to attract business investment, generate revenues, boost trade, and create well-paying jobs.

 

The Aerotropolis Model

Simply put, an Aerotropolis is a metropolitan sub-region whose infrastructure, land use, and economy are centred on a major airport. Its primary value proposition is that it offers its businesses speedy connectivity to their suppliers, customers, and enterprise partners nationally and worldwide. Many Aerotropolis firms, especially those in the high-tech, biomedical, and advanced business service sectors, are time-sensitive and often more dependent on distant suppliers and customers than those located in their own metropolitan region . For such firms, time is not only cost, it is also currency, with the shortest connecting time between widely distant locations being a non-stop flight.

 

The Aerotropolis also contains the full set of logistics and commercial facilities that support aviation-linked businesses, cargo, and the tens of millions of air travellers who pass through the airport annually. These facilities include, freight forwarding and supply chain management; bonded warehouses, high-value food perishables, e-commerce, and pharmaceutical distribution facilities; office buildings, hotels, and convention and exhibition complexes; and health and wellness, research, and education services, as well as leisure and tourism venues. Appropriately sited and publicly serviced residential areas house many of the employees of these airport-area businesses.

As an increasing number of aviation-oriented firms, their supporting service providers, and associated residential developments cluster around airports and outward along their highway and rail corridors, the Aerotropolis emerges where air travellers and locals alike work, shop, meet, exchange knowledge, conduct business, eat, sleep, and are entertained, often without going more than fifteen minutes from the airport (see Exhibit). A new, dynamic urban growth pole forms, with multimodal transportation infrastructure (air, highway, rail, and links to ports) efficiently connecting Aerotropolis businesses and people to markets near and far, accelerating trade in high-value goods and services and enhancing the Aerotropolis’ local, regional, national, and global economic importance.

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