The location of an airport is an extremely important business endeavor for any company. Indeed, according to Blachut, transportation, while being a primary revenue domain for an airport, is not exclusive in terms of service provision. Hence, the modern perception of airports is closely associated with the additional services presented to the passenger next to a designated airport. The core area that determines the potential profitability of an airport is also known as an airport catchment area. It may be defined as the geographic area fromwhich a given airport is expected to draw potential passengers. Thus, depending on how close the airport is located to its competitors, its commute convenience, and the travel options presented, the airport may either benefit or lose potential customers.
There are several factors that affect the airport’s catchment area. The first and arguably the most significant factor is the population of the area. Thus, for example, small regional airports, while having a small catchment area, may have the advantage of serving as the only option for the population within the region. Airports in large European cities, for their part, while having access to an exhaustive passenger flow, face competition in terms of airport variety. According to Blachut, nearly 67% of European citizens live at a 2-hour distance from at least two airports. Hence, the notion of the population living in the airport’s catchment area is one of the most significant factors in calculating the airport’s profitability and relevance in the local market.
Another factor that should be addressed is the concept of proximity to other airports. When an airport is placed close to the surrounding airports, resulting in the catchment areas’ overlap, the competition and financial risks increase rapidly. Thus, the population that was once considered a part of one’s airport catchment area may become the target population of a competing airport. The issue is especially relevant when large airport subsidiaries enter the area, as bigger enterprises are capable of presenting more destinations and reasonable flight pricing.
Hence, such a risk leads to another airplane catchment factor: travel destinations and flight frequency. The more destinations and flights airports present, the higher the probability of attracting local residents to use the designated airlines on a regular basis. For example, over the past years, European airports have gained more freedom in terms of organizing commercial flights and extending the assortment of flight destinations. As a result, larger airports with more freedom and transportation capabilities are at a significant advantage in recruiting local passengers.
Finally, the infrastructure and parking fairs of an airport is an important factor. Indeed, a developed infrastructure within the airport’s catchment area, including a fast and convenient route and the presence of leisure facilities, plays a crucial role when choosing an airport. According to Balchut, the availability of leisure and shopping next to the airport terminals has now become one of the most efficient ways to enhance the airport’s revenue and secure passenger traffic leakage from the adjacent airports. Moreover, the notion of parking prices is of paramount importance for travelers willing to leave their vehicles on the airport premises. Hence, fundamentally, the airport catchment area depends on how close it is situated with regard to other airplanes and how many people in the area may become potential customers.