West home to Canada’s most efficient airports


They may not necessarily be the best, but look west to find Canada’s most efficient airports.

Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton took the top three places among major Canadian facilities for their management efficiency and cost competitiveness.

The same study by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business ranks one of the world’s busiest international airports – Atlanta – also the most efficient.

The results were presented today at the Air Transport Research Society world conference in Taiwan.

Other world leaders include Seoul in Asia, Copenhagen in Europe, and Sydney for Oceania.

The key to success appears to be turning an airport into a shopping and office destination.

“Our report shows that the world’s most efficient airports are supplementing core income with money generated through non-aeronautical revenue streams, such as parking, office rentals, retail activity and real estate development,” says Tae Oum, the lead researcher.

For instance, on June 15, Vancouver’s airport authority announced plans to build a luxury designer outlet facility on airport land, and Edmonton leased  an entire floor of its yet-to-be-completed control tower to Canadian Helicopters for a new western headquarters.

On June 26, Edmonton International Airport leased an entire floor of its new control tower to Canadian Helicopters for a western headquarters.

For North American airports, Atlanta generated 63 per cent of its total revenue from non-aviation activities, while the lowest-ranked North American airport – Denver International – derived only 37 per cent of its income from alternative sources. Airports on the continent, on average, derive a little less than 50 per cent of their revenue from non-aviation sources.

An airport’s efficiency does make a huge difference to airlines and, in turn, the travelling public. Atlanta only charged $301 for a 767 to land last year, compared to $14,126 at London Heathrow.

“We can also see that airports which outsource various terminal services also improve their efficiency,” said Oum.

Oum and his colleagues arrived at their conclusions by dividing the total number of aircraft movements, passenger and cargo volumes and non-aeronautical revenue generation by full-time equivalent employees and other operational expenses, including outsourced services.

Here are the most efficient airports, as calculated by the society:

North America – More than 15 million annual passengers

1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
2. Charlotte Douglas International Airport
3. Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport

North America – Less than 15 million annual passengers

1. Raleigh-Durham International Airport
2. Richmond International Airports
3. Will Rogers World Airport

Canada – overall

1. Vancouver International Airport
2. Calgary International Airport
3. Edmonton International Airport

Europe – More than 15 million annual passengers

1. Copenhagen Kastrup International Airport
2. Oslo Airport Gardermoen
3. Zurich Airport

Europe – Less than 15 million annual passengers

1. Genève Aéroport
2. Nice Cote D’Azure Airport
3. Edinburgh Airport

Asia – Overall

1. Seoul-Gimpo International Airport
2. Incheon International Airport
3. Hong Kong International Airport

Oceania – Overall

1. Sydney Airport
2. Queenstown Airport
3. Dunedin International Airport