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Aerotropolis to boost economic growth and aviation investments

Participating in a session on Aerotropolis – a giant leap forward at the 2nd Global Airport Leaders’ Forum (GALF), alongside the 14th Airport Show in Dubai on Monday, leading US academic and Father of Aerotropolis concept, Dr John D. Kasarda, offered insights into the new urban form placing airports in the center with cities growing around them, with Dubai World Central (DWC) as a classic example.

Airports have evolved as drivers of business location and urban development in the 21st century in the same way as highways did in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th century and seaports in the 18th century. As economies become increasingly globalized and dependent on electronic commerce, air commerce and the speed and agility it provides to the movement of people and goods has become its logistical backbone, he asserted.

Dr John, who is Director of Center for Air Commerce at Kenan Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said aerotropolises were coming up in the Middle East, China and India as each region prepares to take its place on the world stage. An aerotropolis has an airport city at its core and is surrounded by clusters of aviation-related enterprises that gain a competitive advantage by utilizing each other’s strength and capabilities.

In the 21st century, efficient, large and well-connected airports matter to prosperity above everything else. “The fastest, best-connected places will win and the future belongs to the ‘city that can see the writing on the wall before the competition can even see the wall’,” said Dr. Kasarda who developed the concept in the year 2000 and remained its global preacher since then. According to his 10 points for planning aerotropolises, “thematic architectural features, public art and iconic structures should make aerotropolis developments interpretable, navigable and welcoming.”
Joining him in the panel discussion were Dr.Gene Eu (Ching Yuh) Jan, Financial Vice President, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, and Eng.Khalfan Said Mubarak Al Shueili, General Manager –Readiness, Oman Airports Management Company. They supported the aerotropolis concept and shared details of the facilities now under development in their respective countries. Hamdi Osman, Former Senior VP and CEO of FedEx Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, moderated the session.

The expert has warned that without sufficient air connectivity and efficient aviation infrastructure, the basic engine that drives the airport city will sputter. He said that in the rush to aerotropolis model implementation; don’t forget that the first and foremost thing a successful airport city requires was a successful airport which can move growing volumes of passengers and cargo efficiently. He said that airports and their surrounding areas have become as much destinations as places of departure.

“Airport cities and Aerotropolis are valuable regional and national assets, as well as airport assets. Properly planned and developed, they promote regional and national business efficiency and attract additional passengers and cargo,” he added.

He pointed out that airport master planning must change with more focus on commercial layout and efficiencies. Ideally the commercial components and aeronautical components should be energized. Within the next two decades, the worldwide commercial passenger traffic will likely be increased approximately from 5.4 billion to 14 billion while the world cargo traffic is expected to triple during the same period.
Dr.Kasarda said: “Air logistics and the new economy are inextricably interwoven. Over one-third of the value of world trade already moves by air. Almost all high-tech supply chains and business services exports are connected by aviation, thus the 21st century economy is becoming an aviation-based economy.”

Asked about the growing trend of bigger aircrafts and smaller airports, he said it was a mismatch and will not go well in the long run because bigger aircrafts need bigger airports. He said that he sees more small and large airports coming up that will support the growth of aerotropolis across the world.

Organized by Reed Exhibitions Middle East in cooperation with Nadd Al Shiba PR and Event Management, the aviation knowledge sharing platform had on board an impressive line-up of 30 key global government decision-makers, policy makers, thinkers and visionaries.

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