As facilities age, passenger traffic increases, aircrafts change, and regulation and security requirements expand, airports face a multitude of development needs. While Capitol Hill can’t seem to pull together on infrastructure spending, the aviation sector is finding innovative ways to fund huge upgrade programs.
Infrastructure USA reports that capital spending by both airlines and airports to the tune of $50-100 billion in infrastructure improvements (terminals and facilities) through 2021. And while largely flatlined (federal funding still makes up almost half of airport infrastructure spending), many airports and airlines are turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) to make up the shortfall.
Public-Private Partnerships Fuel Infrastructure Innovation
Without additional investment from Congress, private financing sources like P3s are gaining momentum as an alternative way to fund aviation infrastructure delivery. Infrastructure USA cites an example from Denver International Airport (DIA) which wanted to install solar power in its power grid. To achieve this, DIA contracted with a solar power firm to install the panels on its land. DIA takes a share of the power generated and solar power company sells the rest.
In another example, Chicago Rockford International Airport worked with infrastructure firm, Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, to build two structures capable of housing a Boeing 747 aircraft – now the largest maintenance facility in the U.S. not owned by an airline.
Improving Customer Experience Through Infrastructure Investment
Many of today’s airport infrastructure projects are focused on improving the customer experience. With the FAA estimating that U.S. airport traffic will increase by 50% in the next two decades, airports are facing crippling congestion.
To support these projects, airports are increasingly looking toward the efficiencies of building information modeling (BIM). At Denver International Airport, BIM has become a part of a comprehensive airport-wide strategy to improve facility management and maintenance, drive sustainability, and minimize the inconvenience of infrastructure projects on passengers.
Read more about how Denver International is using BIM to keep pace with aviation infrastructure growth. And for more information on using P3s to fund airport infrastructure projects, check out these best practices from Aviation Pros.