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Adaptive Reuse Coming to Struggling Airports

As airlines cut service to small and mid-sized cities, once bustling airports now find whole terminals vacated, and are looking to find new revenue models for the vacated space, reports Jane L. Levere.
July 12, 2012, 2pm PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Rampant consolidation and cost-cutting in the airline industry have seen airlines concentrate more of their flights on bigger-city airports, to the detriment of formerly bustling hubs such as St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Oakland. "Airports generate revenue in two ways - through fees paid by airlines and general aviation operators and through income from parking, car rentals, concessions, advertising space sales and rentals of maintenance and other buildings," states Levere. Both funding sources have declined over recent years.

As a result, airports across the country are considering how best to use vacated facilities. Some airports are considering demolition of unused terminals, such as at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Others are looking to find new revenue streams. At Pittsburgh International Airport, staff are taking on maintenance services for the totality of the airport. At Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, two terminals are looking to be renovated into office space or revenue-generating parking space.

Cargo shipping by air also seems to be a bright spot, as Levere reports, "DHL, the global shipping company, has made Cincinnati its North American hub. Since 2009, DHL has invested $105 million on its operation there...DHL now generates 40 percent of the airport's landing fee revenues."

According to Levere, "As airlines continue to consolidate and cut back on their use of smaller, regional jets, more airports will be in the same difficult position - looking for new uses for unoccupied terminals, hangars and other specialized buildings. "

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Published on Monday, July 9, 2012 in The New York Times
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