How to Boost Airport Commercial Revenue in a Post-COVID World

Kevin Rozario


March 2, 2022

mod cleveland airport ground transportation project

ACI World has launched guidance for airports to take advantage of a possible upturn in aviation this year – assuming the war in Ukraine can be contained.

Airports Council International (ACI) has predicted that 2022 might be a turnaround year for aviation after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The body has also decided that now is the time for airports to start rebuilding and has introduce a new series of guidance material to strengthen their non-aeronautical (commercial) revenue.

This year, passenger numbers worldwide will still be down by close to 3.7 billion. Compared to 2019 levels, this would represent a 29% decrease. While that does not look great, it is a much better scenario than 2021 when 5.4 billion passengers were lost, meaning that numbers were 48% lower than 2019.

Beefing up the commercial business ‘on the way up’ makes sense as some fine tuning and adaptation will be needed. ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira commented: “As transportation options evolve and the preferences of customers change, airports must respond to meet the needs of both passengers and employees.

“This requires airports to improve operating procedures, offer enhanced technologies, and upgrade infrastructure – particularly as travel picks up with the easing of restrictions.”

Such enhancements could be anything from increased digitalization and electric vehicle charging stations, to bumping up available curb space or public parking. ACI World’s CEO added: “When managed correctly, airports can enhance the customer experience – and their own revenue – by effectively working with their service providers.”

First in a New Series From ACI World

Guidance on airport ground access services is the first topic in the new series. This set of pay-for and free documents focus on airport ground access and include:

* The Optimal Integration of Airport Ground Access Services Handbook

* A Sustainable Airport Ground Access Policy Paper

* Guidance in Support of Non-aeronautical Activities and Revenues (upcoming).

Over the years, airports have become multimodal transportation hubs trying to meet the needs of a diverse set of travelers who have varying preferences when choosing how to get to and from an airport.

The impacts from COVID19, increasing automation and technological connectivity, plus the decarbonization trend, have together resulted in a pick-up in the evolution of passenger expectations. Meanwhile, the financial impact of the pandemic on airports – revenue in 2022 is forecast to only reach 72.6% of 2019 levels – has highlighted the importance of non-aeronautical streams in the recovery, and in the long-term sustainability of the entire aviation ecosystem.

The rest of the series will include the launch of guidance in the areas of concession agreements, duty free, digital transformation, and food and beverage.

The publications have been developed by ACI World’s new sub-committee on Airports’ Non-Aeronautical Revenues and Activities (ANARA), which is linked to the association’s Economics Standing Committee.