The National Academies

ACRP 11-08(21-01) [Active]

ACRP Insight Event--Future of Airport Finances

  Project Data
Funds: $120,000
Staff Responsibility: Matt Griffin
Research Agency: HMMH
Principal Investigator: Katherine Preston


The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) provides practical solutions to challenges faced by airport industry practitioners. Not all challenges lend themselves to applied research or to published solutions due to their dynamic or unsettled nature, lack of maturity, or because the state of knowledge or practice is still evolving. Nonetheless, the airport industry would benefit from a deeper understanding and dialog on many of these challenges even if an immediate solution is not practical. Established in 2015, ACRP Project 11-08, ACRP Insight Events convene airport-industry leaders and subject-matter experts (SMEs) in various fields to encourage discussion and promote broader and deeper insight on topics of significance to airport operators.
Consistent with the National Academies, the definition of a convening event, such as an ACRP Insight Event, is intended to create a communal environment that fosters dialogue across sectors, institutions, and industries. Insight Events are selected by the ACRP Oversight Committee (AOC).  Expectations are that each event will take place within 12 months of AOC funding authorization.  The Transportation Research Board (TRB) will seek approvals from the Executive Committee of the Governing Board (GBEC) of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and will follow established TRB guidelines for the conduct of each event.
ACRP research cannot produce policy recommendations, or advice to federal agencies or to Congress. ACRP applied research projects publish contractor-authored reports. ACRP Insight Events are convening events of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and we may publish summaries of the events. ACRP can’t publish recommendations from an Insight Event. The sole purpose of an ACRP Insight Event is to gather airport-industry leaders and SMEs in various fields to encourage discussion and promote broader and deeper insight on topics of significance to airport operators and their stakeholders.
An ACRP Insight Event may result in webinar-style video recordings, web content, podcasts, infographics, or meeting notes. Other products, such as event summaries, a forum or workshop in brief, or proceedings, are possible through an Academies report review and then published by the National Academies. Guidelines for such products are strict and rigid.
Although ACRP Insight Events do not produce solutions themselves, they illuminate issues that need attention. Each ACRP Insight Event will have topic experts on the planning committee to design and develop activities for the event. Usually, planning committee members are selected based on each individual’s expertise, but other considerations may be a factor. Government officials and industry associations may serve in ex officio capacity on planning committees.
Among other outcomes, ACRP Insight Events may lead to opportunities for further work that are appropriate for ACRP research projects. For example, the activities of an ACRP Insight Event may result in one or more ACRP problem statements, which may lead to funding an ACRP applied research project, legal study, or synthesis of practice.


The financial aspects of operating an airport have always been challenging.  The challenges have ranged from predictable, day-to-day issues to system shocks such as the September 11th terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic.  System shocks, by their nature, pose significant disruption.  But they also provide airports with real inflection points and impetus to take stock of current practice and make significant, needed changes to their financial planning and operations. 

Additionally, airports are seeing new staff joining their financial team who may be unfamiliar with issues unique to airports.  The financial challenges require both an immediate response to help airports currently experiencing unprecedented negative impacts and a traditional research-based response to provide resources and guidelines.


To address the immediate need for information exchange, ACRP will conduct an Insight Event on the Future of Airport Finances.  The purpose of this convening event is to allow airports and stakeholders to share their responses and near-term plans for adapting to the current industry financial challenges and help identify the areas of research to be undertaken in a future ACRP project.

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