The National Academies

ACRP 03-04 [Final]

Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Jacobs Consultancy
Principal Investigator: David Biggs
Effective Date: 1/16/2007
Completion Date: 8/31/2009

Airport-user surveys are the primary source of information for airport operators and other agencies on airport-user characteristics and airport ground access mode use, and they play a critical role in airport planning and air travel forecasting. Planning, development, and conduct of airport-user surveys can be complex, expensive, and subject to a number of pitfalls. Surveys are often conducted at infrequent intervals and by different contractors, and there is often a lack of continuity between successive surveys for the same airport. The lack of comparability between surveys at airports in multi-airport regions can be a particular problem for analyzing airport choice decisions or performing studies of traffic leakage to airports in adjacent regions.

Questionnaire wording is often problematic because it must be precise and yet ensure that the questions are understandable to the respondents. In addition, there is often a difficult tradeoff between the range of issues addressed by the survey and the number of questions that can reasonably be included. There are also fundamental decisions on how to collect the information, such as through interviews or self-completed questionnaires, and where to survey the passengers.

There are also a number of technical issues that arise with such surveys that are not well understood. These issues include selection of sample size and appropriate sample design; how to handle responses from large parties, such as tour groups or sports teams that have been encountered in the survey; and how to appropriately weight individual survey responses in presenting the survey results. While there is a considerable body of knowledge on sound survey methodology, the airport environment presents many unique situations and challenges. Specific guidance on airport-user surveys would be particularly helpful to those organizations undertaking such surveys.

The objective of this project is to develop a Guidebook for planning, designing, conducting, and analyzing airport user surveys.

Status:    The Final Report has been published as ACRP Report 26 Guidebook for Conducting Airport User Surveys.

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