The National Academies

ACRP 03-72 [Pending]

A Guide on the Economic Impacts of E-Commerce on Airports and Airport Stakeholders

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 20 months
Staff Responsibility: Edward K. McDonald III


The volume of e-commerce air cargo has increased in recent years. The relationships between airports and their stakeholders are evolving to accommodate emerging e-commerce supply chain needs that drive air cargo service strategies, investments, and modernized infrastructures to provide an efficient transportation experience. The supply chain relationships resulting from the subsets of air cargo within e-commerce activities, such as integrators (e.g., Amazon) and non-integrators (e.g., U.S. Postal Service), help influence decision-making. Some of the research gaps in the air cargo industry include addressing the lack of data collection for e-commerce cargo, understanding airports’ air cargo policies, and the economic impact of e-commerce to the airport’s local community, region, and abroad. This research will examine, at a minimum, the relationships of the airport e-commerce supply chain, strategies related to determining economic impacts, data collection, and potential opportunities and opportunity costs.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide and research report about the supply chain relationships between airports and airport stakeholders. This research will enable airport industry professionals and governing bodies to formulate strategies and determine the economic impact of e-commerce activities on airports and their stakeholders. The research will examine potential opportunities and opportunity costs in e-commerce for the airport industry and its stakeholders. The guide shall include at a minimum:

  1. An examination of supply chain relationships:

a. Identify the modern-day supply chain participants and their roles within the relationship with the airport and its stakeholders,

b. Provide a description and overview of supply chain relationships between the airport and its stakeholders, and 

c. Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities of airport and e-commerce stakeholder relationships.

  1. A review of activities within the U.S. air cargo e-commerce market (both integrators and non-integrators):

a.  Define and describe e-commerce for the purpose of this study, and

b.  Examine the activity level of e-commerce activity within the U.S. air cargo market including, but not limited to, tonnage and value, and perform a comparative analysis of the volume and monetary value of e-commerce air cargo.

  1. A list of strategies to determine the economic impact of e-commerce:

a. Identify and categorize the various types of e-commerce-related economic impacts,

b. Develop a model of influences and beneficiaries of the economic impact of e-commerce,

c. Identify the metrics and models that airport industry practitioners take into consideration regarding the benefits of economic impacts of e-commerce, and

d. Examine the types of airport e-commerce economic data that may be available and create a trend analysis.

  1. A chart of opportunities and opportunity costs within e-commerce at airports:

a. Identify direct economic impacts of e-commerce on the airports in comparison to direct and indirect impacts to the region, and

b. Identify risks and vulnerabilities within the economic impacts of e-commerce to the airports and community.

  1. A policy review list:

a. Develop a list of air cargo e-commerce investment policies that currently exist,

b. Evaluate the policies specific to the various relationships within e-commerce activities, and

c. Identify solutions airports utilize for navigating limitations within the policies.

  1. A report forecasting future scenarios based on current trends regarding the e-commerce market participation, including potential changes and impacts to the supply chain and infrastructure at airports over the next few years.
  2. A report of how much air cargo tonnage and value is associated with e-commerce for: 

a. Integrators and non-integrators, and

b. International versus domestic air cargo.

  1. An analysis of the types of practices airports use to accommodate e-commerce air cargo.
  2. A case study examining the strategies airports utilize to accommodate e-commerce air cargo operations.


The research plan should include deliverables, at minimum a data collection plan, for ACRP and panel review and approval.

The research plan should include checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.

The final deliverables will include: (1) (a) a guide for airport professionals about the supply chain relationships between airports and airport stakeholders resulting from the subsets of air cargo within e-commerce activities (integrators and non-integrators) to help influence decision-making; (b) a research report summarizing the entire research effort including background, methodology, findings, and conclusions; and (2) (a) a Summary of Key Findings; (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo; and (c) a technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. 


STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5400