Oh, What a Feeling!

Paul Bowers

Over the last few months or so, I've detected a change in attitude, and this sense was validated at the national conferences I attended in fall. What is it, you ask? That airports and other aviation sectors are now enjoying the best of times. 

Perception or reality? It depends.

If you've followed the airlines' quarterly earnings reports, it appears they are certainly enjoying some heady success. But that's a discussion for another time.

What I'm referring to is how people are perceiving the overall health of the airport industry.

It seems that 2015 has been a breakout year. Airports are serving many more passengers than ever before, and project work is occurring at levels we haven't seen in a decade or more. 

Is that really the case? Sort of. 

It's true that passenger counts increased in 2014 and 2015; but that's nothing new. They've been inching higher over the past few years. However, the increases seen over the last five years have been slow and predictable. Yes, we are doing better; but it isn't as though the floodgates have opened.

When it comes to airport spending, we're all too familiar with the AIP and PFC sagas. The amount of AIP dollars has been static, and the PFC rate is frozen. Any increase in available funds is tied to increasing the number of passengers.

So what is driving this attitude that we're in the midst of an airport boon? I contend that it's predictability and stability. Interest rates and oil prices are low. Consumer confidence and the overall economy are good. But mostly, we're in a pattern of predictable and constant growth without any huge disruptions threatening the domestic economy. We're able to plan and execute. Whether it's families taking vacations or airports building new runways and terminals, people are confident that tomorrow will support today's plans.

My hope for you is that sustainable growth follows you and all of your endeavors into 2016.



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