Four key developments for airports leaders in 2021

16 April 2021 2 min. read
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Aviation experts from Horváth & Partners and Cordence recently organised a virtual roundtable with leaders from major airports across the world to gain insight into key developments facing the industry in 2021. 

Aside the impact of the Covid-19-induced downturn and lockdowns on international travel demand, a round-up of four strategic themes that emerged from the discussions:

Airport safety

As each airport works to navigate a global pandemic, all are looking forward to an international health pass and a common strategy to Covid-19 testing, at a minimum within the European Union. Leaders agree customers and airports need common rules to ensure safety and efficiency and preserve summer traffic through airports.

Four key developments for airports leaders in 2021

New revenue strategies

With a number of core revenue models under pressure due to changing consumer behaviour, new revenue strategies are vital. As an example, airport parking – once a major source of income – will gradually lessen as ride sharing continues to rise in popularity. The same applies for the tapping into trends in eco-friendly travel, or growing demand for aviation cargo services. 

Contactless experience

The contactless customer connection is another emerging airport trend. The touchless journey, with pre-booked and pre-paid meals and shopping leads to efficiency and safety when planning a trip. The introduction of more pre-paid products and more leisurely dwell times seems to be generating a revenue lift for airports. Leaders aim to tailor the travel experience through use of digital tools, luxury retail and customised hospitality, generating more opportunity for income.


Some governments have released regulations on short haul flight (SHF) trips that can be taken by train in less than 2.5 hours. France has restricted short haul flight to improve their ecological footprint. Similarly, Sweden has announced that by 2025 any airplane departing a Swedish airport must be 5% bio fueled. 

Meanwhile, hydrogen and other alternative fuels are on the rise, as are electric domestic flights. These new innovations will ensure that sustainability rises on the agenda of airport leaders. 

Other trends that were discussed include: automation in airport operations, the growing importance of off-site passenger handling, the rise of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and biometrics, flexibility at peak travel times, and passenger safety.