Rapid changes in corporate environmental standards will have a profound impact on airport operations and revenues, and airports need to be aware of these potential impacts and prepare accordingly. In recent months, many Fortune 500 companies have updated their policies on employee business travel. These policies include carbon budgets that define maximum travel allowances not only in terms of dollars, but also in terms of CO2 output and carbon penalties, which impose a “business travel fee” on each ton of CO2 emitted over the course of a work trip. At the same time, some of an airport’s key customers, such as airlines and logistics firms, have introduced new environmental standards into their investment screening process. For example, a global e-commerce firm recently announced that it will only invest at airports whose power supply is delivered, at least in part, through renewables. Others have made similar commitments regarding sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). These private-sector policy changes represent both an opportunity and a threat for airports. Possible threats could include carbon penalties and the inability of some companies to do business with airports that do not meet their environmental standards. Possible opportunities for airports, on the other hand, include significant resources that numerous corporate players have earmarked to support green projects [e.g., using funds collected through carbon penalties to invest in SAFs and electric ground support equipment (GSE)]. As airports seek to achieve their own sustainability targets and address funding gaps, these private partners represent a promising new source of investment. Airports need to be aware of these new investment guidelines and adapt their business development strategy accordingly. Given the time-sensitive nature of the topic, it is essential to disseminate actionable insights to airport managers as soon as possible.
The objective of this research is to prepare an ACRP First Look paper to define the issue, provide regulatory and legal context, and identify how the airport industry should be thinking and preparing for these changes.
Note: This an expedited project. The deadline for panel nominations for this project is September 6, 2022.