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Airport-centric Development (U.S.) & Heathrow and Berlin Challenges

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine airport-centric development and the activities of airport operators and regional stakeholders to facilitate such development. In an effort to increase airports' efficiency in moving passengers and cargo while bolstering the economies of regions surrounding airports, some airport operators, government officials, and business owners are exploring opportunities to strategically develop airports and the regions around them. This report describes the factors considered and actions taken by airport operators, government officials, developers, and others to facilitate airport-centric development.

GAO identified five factors that facilitate airport-centric development from relevant literature, interviews with experts, and observations at selected U.S. airports and their surrounding regions. GAO examined these factors by reviewing relevant documents and interviewing stakeholders, including airport officials, business owners, representatives of development organizations, and federal, state, and local government officials. GAO selected 14 airports for more in-depth study. 

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This interesting and pertinent GAO study can be accessed at

"LAST year, when Britain’s government was being lobbied to revive controversial plans to expand Heathrow airport, ministers dodged the issue using the time-honoured technique of setting up a committee of grandees. Further heat was taken out of the debate when the Department for Transport downgraded its forecasts for passenger growth. Having predicted just before the financial crisis that 495m passengers a year would want to use Britain’s airports by 2030, it now puts the potential demand by then at just 320m. But that is still 100m more than passed through British airports last year. Even by the latest forecasts, London’s five airports will have to turn away about 13m passengers a year by 2030, rising to 46m in 2040 and 92m in 2050. Some scope exists for them to switch to regional airports but the potential for lost growth, as business trips are skipped and foreign tourists give London a miss, is great. The best option, however, (according to the Economist Magazine) is to expand Heathrow not to its north, but to the west, by building up to four new runways over what is now a reservoir. Although detailed noise studies have yet to be done on this proposal, simply moving the runways a couple of kilometres to the left offers the scope for almost doubling Heathrow’s capacity while significantly reducing the numbers of those subjected to oppressive din." 

The Economist Magazine editorial on moving Heathrow Westward can be accessed at: ;        an in depth Economist briefing paper can be accessed at:

As Berlin grows increasingly discontent with the repeated construction delays  and scandals surrounding Berlin International Airport (BER), a growing number of residents are lobbying to overrule the city's plans and keep open the Berlin's current main airport, Tegel.  An online petition to put the issue to a popular vote is quickly gathering support, while activists are holding public signature-gathering campaigns to reach the 20,000 signatures needed by July 9 to force action by city lawmakers.

"The transportation needs of Berlin can't be fulfilled by BER alone," the organiser of the petition said -- a claim reportedly supported by multiple industry studies that have leaked to the media. In January, the mass-circulation daily Bild reported a study by the Aachen-based Airport Research Center had found the check-in area to be too small for the number of anticipated passengers, and that not enough baggage claim carousels were planned. Another study last year by FDC Airport Consulting reportedly found BER's capacity to be "clearly beneath the demand." Airport officials disputed the findings of the studies and have rejected criticism of BER's capacity as unfounded. This Der Spiegel article can be accessed at: