A New Airport in Durban: Assessing the Direct Effects on the Local Population

Durban-1024x693In May 2010, the new King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) was opened in South Africa, an emerging economy for which integration into the world economy is an important objective. Being developed as part of a trade and investment hub, the new airport serves as a case for infrastructural mega-projects, of which many are increasingly built around the world to attract investors and generate economic growth. Their positive effects on society are however disputed. This article assesses the extent to which this new airport in Durban has directly benefited the local population in terms of employment generation and economic development.

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Brazil Needs a Much More Modern Airport Infrastructure Model

GRUBy Respicio A. Espirito Santo Jr.1, Erivelton Pires Guedes2, Dorieldo Luiz dos Prazeres3, Rogerio Pecci Filho4

During the AIRPORT EVOLUTION LATIN AMERICA 2011 conference in São Paulo on May 11th‐12th what many suspected became true: neither Infraero nor the federal authorities in Brasilia have a “Plan B” to the current torrent of various bottlenecks and very low level of service at major Brazilian airports for the short‐term (neither for the FIFA Soccer World Cup of 2014). And this was confirmed by the evasive responses given by the representative of Infraero during the before mentioned event when specifically asked about this matter.

Also, the lecturers agree on the fact São Paulo needs urgently a new airport. As a matter of fact, considering that nothing real has been done and officially confirmed by the government at the time of writing, common sense suggests that – as strange as it may sound – probably there is also no “Plan A” as well. Complementing it, GRU’s Terminal 3 is “being designed” and “the project is on time” since the late 90s when the then‐president of Infraero “confirmed” that it would be operational “in the next few years”. Twelve or more years have passed, domestic enplanements in Brazil have more than doubled since then but there isn’t a single brick of GRU’s T3 put in place. Considering the above plus all the past mis‐sayings and long‐lasting undefined issues, a question arises: Is there any strategic planning culture at Infraero and at the higher government levels regarding airport infrastructure?

In order to collaborate with the debate, the authors have written this 2‐page article highlighting a series of relevant aspects to be raised in the discussion. These aspects were built up on a simplified bullet‐point format.
What the Brazilian government (and the Brazilian society) should be looking for in terms of airport infrastructure and airport management to effectively modernize the current slow‐pace, centralized and monopolistic model:

a) Safety and security (this must always be the starting point, no matter in the world where the airport is located).
b) Agility and flexibility for planning, operations and management decisions.
c) Multi/plural and systemic approaches and expertise.
d) A continuous flow of (and large amounts of) capital/investments.
e) Direct competition between airports.
f) Modern, future‐thinking management and operational practices.
g) A very high level of service (in all terms) for passengers, companions, visitors, and all other airport customers.
h) Pro‐active and direct partnerships plus coordinated planning, operations and execution between the airport operator, airlines, border control and immigration authorities, law enforcement, transit and transportation authorities, environmental authorities, health authorities, etc.
i) The airport as a social, cultural and economic multiplier for its catchment area.
j) The airport as a multi‐service provider for the Brazilian society, the economy and the aviation industry.

Looking at the above, concessions of airports to private consortiums, authorizations to private firms built and operate private airports, and wise public‐private partnerships (PPPs) immediately come into the debate. We could sum these three as “privatization” options. Following this way, it is possible to list the potential reasons for privatization as:

a) To encourage more efficient and commercial operations.
b) To reduce/minimize government bureaucracies.
c) To secure financing and building of airport infrastructure on a faster pace.
d) To access international expertise.
e) To provide a wider share of ownership.
f) To provide funds for governments (and for non‐profitable airports).
g) To increase flexibility, speed and wider‐view approaches in daily, tactical and strategic decision making.
h) To install or increase direct competition within the airport system (between airports).
i) To indirectly promote airline competition.
j) To turn the airport into a true social catalyzer and economic multiplier.
k) To turn passengers, companions, visitors, airlines, catchment area businesses, etc. into customers and not simple “users”.

However union representatives and other individuals will argue that major airport management and operation is a “strategic” and “sovereign” activity that cannot be passed on to private firms. Besides this, it is common to hear that Infraero is “the largest airport operator in the world” and its critical problems are not internal, but a result of some “unreasonable” federal regulations and very rigid oversight by the TCU, the Brazilian parallel of the U.S. General Accountability Office.

In response to the above, not only there are several much more “strategic” and “sovereign”‐related services that have been privatized in Brazil (telecommunications and water distribution/treatment, just to mention two of a set that could be labeled as “truly strategic”), but there is a set of conveniently forgotten aspects that are never raised by the ones against any sort of privatization:

a) Infraero‐managed airports do not belong to Infraero.
b) Infraero is a state‐owned and state‐controlled company guided by federal government policies, not otherwise!
c) As a direct result of the above, Infraero does not have the right to claim or to input any ‘political pressure’ regarding its preference to manage this or that airport.
d) Infraero is not a concessionary; it is a firm that represents the federal government for airport operation and management.
e) Infraero’s full cross‐subsidy model is not well seen by ICAO.
f) Other state‐owned and state‐controlled organizations are immersed in highly competitive and open markets (like Petrobras, Banco do Brasil, etc. and operate very successfully!), therefore – if faced by strong private airport operators – Infraero should not fear anything.
g) Just as mentioned above, other once 100% state‐controlled and state‐run sectors – much more “strategic” than airports – have been “privatized” in Brazil and the level of service to the general public has been overwhelmingly enhanced if compared to when operated by state firms.

But in order to achieve any significant success in any future airport privatization model (either concessions of the entire airport, or just the passenger terminals, or several PPPs, or authorizations), several aspects must be very well taken care of and special attention must be focused on:

a) The regulator (in the Brazilian case the National Civil Aviation Agency, ANAC) must be strong, proactive, system wide‐thinking/planning, neutral and independent from the government.
b) The regulator must elaborate a wise, thorough and comprehensive (yet uncomplicated) bidding process and the concession/privatization contract itself.
c) The concession contract must contain a future expansion plan for at least a 20‐year horizon.
d) The concession contract must introduce the obligation of an extensive array of plausible, measurable and to‐bepublicized and to‐be‐monitored indicators (social, economic, environmental, etc).
e) The concession contract must impose a set of present and future environmental obligations and responsibilities.
f) The concession contract must impose and state the terms of establishing direct and continuous society/community participation and how it would function as an “outside controller” and a “guardian” of specific
terms of the concession contract itself.

Though privatizing some of its major airports, Brazil would introduce direct competition between airports; with competition comes efficiency and much better services to the public, companions, visitors and to the airlines. Besides privatizing, the federal government could also turn a few major airports to its home States to operate and manage (São Paulo‐Congonhas/CGH would be a clear potential example). By doing this, more competition would take place. And the expectation with all this new competition is that Infraero will definitely be a much better organization.

Many people in Brazil ask “Why privatize?” But the question to be thoroughly answered should be: “Why not?!”

1 Corresponding author: respicio@poli.ufrj.br respicio@institutocepta.org
2 D.Sc. in Transportation Engineering, eriveltonguedes@gmail.com
3 MBA in Air Transport Regulation, dorieldo@hotmail.com
4 rogerio.pecci@gmail.com

Airports as Cityports in the City Region by Michel van Wijk

Book Review by Anne Graham

Spatial-economic and institutional positions and institutional learning in Randstad Schiphol (AMS), Frankfurt Rhein-Main (FRA), Tokyo Haneda (HND) and Narita (NRT).  

A growing number of airports are developing as major cityports within their respective cityregions, yet literature related to the spatial-economic and institutional position of these airports is rare. By looking into three detailed case studies in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, Michel Van Wijk provides many new fascinating insights about this topic. 

The Quality of Life in Airport Regions – How to Sustain a Good Marriage

By Olaf van Tol

All the larger European airports are situated in densely populated metropolitan areas. Obviously, airports affect their surrounding regions – both in a negative and in a positive way. Apart from the most obvious negative impacts such as noise, safety concerns and health-related issues, an airport’s positive aspects are often less known to the general public. This is not likely to change in the coming years. In today’s market, the contribution of airports to national and regional economies calls for more support for growth in the civil aviation sector.

Landing an Airport? Airport Development and Strategic Land Use Planning in the EU

By Mariëlle Prins

airport-cityThis paper outlines the increased tension between traditional airport planning methods and economic reality in the airport area. Airport planning and increased (international) regulation have considerable effects on the surrounding areas. The quality of spatial policy and planning sub-optimal because it lacks to set the agenda, is not forward and outward focused and often fails to take into account the dynamics at and around the site.

vrom_logoThis article is part of the collaboration between Aerlines Magazine and the Dutch Ministry for Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment (VROM).Download PDF

Development of Airport Regions: Varieties of Institutions in Schiphol and Frankfurt

By Michel van Wijk

1-ehameddfIn the era of globalization, airports are rapidly developing as new economic centers of the cityregion. Despite internationally comparative economic trends and the challenge of urban planning this brings along, the institutional conditions for the actors involved remain rather local. Development agencies are set up for spatial-economic development of the airport region. A closer look at regional development agencies in the cases of Amsterdam (Schiphol Area Development Company) and Frankfurt (Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund) illustrates great varieties in institutional systems, and in their impact on planning. Both celebrated their anniversaries recently. What have been the results so far, and how can each learn from the other in order to integrate infrastructure and land supply in planning in the context of changing governance structures in finding a balance between exploiting and protecting the airport area?

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An Overview of Development and Traffic Flow at Bandaranayke International Airport in Sri Lanka

By A.K. Somasundaraswaran

Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is Sri Lanka’s only gateway to facilitate international flights, located 32 kilometres away from Colombo city. In order to satisfy ever increasing demand, BIA has been continuously developing its infrastructure. As a result, A.K. Somasundaraswaran expects the airport will soon be identified as a major hub airport in South Asia.


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