This thesis explores the future of airport development by identifying key issues and a range of probable outcomes and future prospects for airport design. The thesis will focus on three elements that make up an airport; namely, air traffic, airport management and infrastructure.
The level and type of air traffic has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, and these changes will have a direct impact on airport design in the future. There are three types of traffic that affect current and future airport designs: passenger, cargo, and aircraft traffic. Air traffic is becoming increasingly unpredictable; therefore, airports must be flexible enough to adapt to any changes that might arise.
The current system of airport management is highly inefficient because, unlike the rest of the aviation industry, airports continue to operate as individual entities. Therefore, three types of management models have emerged: complete airport operators, airport development teams, and specialist operators. Each model has a different effect on airport design, but all feature two ideas that are crucial for airports to be efficient and competitive: scale and focus. The result is a system of airports that operates similarly to hotel chains, rather than of a collection of monadic companies.
There are now three types of airports that serve different segments of the market: 24/7 intercontinental airports that focus on international or transfer flights; cheap fare, short haul airports that serve only discounted airlines; and cargo airports that are dedicated solely to cargo traffic. Each has different requirements and design strategies. There are also many different types of configurations for passenger buildings, including linear, centralised and satellite designs. Each responds to different types and level of traffic, and can be used together as a hybrid design to respond to specific requirements and environments.