- Marcelline Koning, Niels van Klink, Abdelaziz Annali, Louise Okker
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By Marcelline Koning, Niels van Klink, Abdelaziz Annali, Louise Okker
‘ To aim is not enough’
The airport that the research was conducted on is a regional airport with potential to become a sustainable showcase as a civil airport. For the formerly military airport, currently not in use, times are about to change. Environmental reports have been made, economic influences predicted and social consequences are stated.
The goal of the research is to show which options there are, and which are most applicable to different airports, especially the researched airport to implement (different) sustainable developments creating a showcase for other regional airports.
“Sustainability means using methods, systems and materials that won’t deplete resources or harm natural cycles by combining people, planet and profit in a balanced way” (Rosenbaum, 1993)
This definition of sustainability is used for the implementation of this phenomenon on regional airports.
The showcase in this perspective, also takes the surrounding area into account, since it can influence the regional economy and political importance in a positive way, contribute on making the region more attractive and can help Schiphol gain more capacity for their transfer flights by shifting holiday flights to the concerning airport. The airport will also be very attractive to the low cost carriers, as they do not want to pay the high fares they are assigned to on a primary airport.
There are several common-known ways to create sustainable, clean and green energy. Think of wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal energy, green buildings, water management, and etcetera. As sustainability can be good for your PR, more and more organizations are implementing it on a small or large(r) scale, also in the aviation industry. Furthermore the small scale sustainable developments implemented on different regional airports are all the same, which can be seen as a copy paste mentality. Hereby the following questions arise: are sustainable solutions really sustainable? Or is it just window dressing?
The situation the researched airport is in, as well as the rising pressure on being sustainable, creates the following research question:
Can sustainability add value to the business model of a regional airport and its surrounding area?
Rules and regulations are stated in terms of sustainability to obtain a greener environment. The International Civil Aviation Organization focuses on the global climate crisis. They commit to freeze the carbon emission level in 2020 as main goal. Beside the reduced environmental impacts, these organizations also aim for economic benefit and increased integration of the local communities with airports. By the stated regulations, there is an ultimate aim for the industry to be sustainable, where the environment is not sacrificed for growth of air travel.
Different sustainable developments are seen on regional airports today with different amount of impact. The results of a made benchmark, taking into account regional as well as international airports, shows that sustainable developments are present on regional airport but still on very small scale. The reason is a low budget and unprofitable sustainable solutions and sustainability is still not a part of the business model. It can further be said that regional airports are not as far as international airports. However, also on the international airports you see major differences in the amount of sustainable developments seen on the airports. The main question remains;
“Which share of the total energy are generated by renewable energy sources, and how much is the negative contribution to the environment decreased?”
By making use of different data calculations are made to show the opportunities of implementing sustainability to the business model of a regional airport.
For these calculations a fictional airport is used to determine unknown data as assumption. For the implementation of sustainable developments three different operation stages are defined: an operating airport, a brownfield airport (for instance a military airport which is redesigned to a civil airport) and a greenfield airport. Since for every kind of airport another approach of implementation is needed, three different models are stated, based on:
- Energy source substitution (model 1),
- Energy use reduction (model 2),
- CO2 footprint minimization (model 3).
Model 1 describes the consequences when making use of 100% green energy and is suitable for an operating airport, since the influence on the operation is minimized. A significant decrease of energy is the core of model 2.
Here is considered what the impact will be if less than half of the total energy is used. This model fits the best for a brownfield airport, since different processes can be rearranged, but the basic structures of some processes are already present due to the presence of a terminal and runway. The last model makes use of both models 1 and 2 plus it influences the cooperation with the surrounding area, and especially companies.
By combining different processes of the airport with surrounding companies, a new structure of these processes is possible with a positive result regarding the environment.
Futher information is available through the authors: Marcelline Koning, Niels van Klink, Abdelaziz Annali, Louise Okker, Aviation Management, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, April 2012.