Airport-Generated Revenue or Operating Revenue

Airport revenue is generated by both GA and Commercial Service airports.

GA airports generate revenue from user fees associated with aircraft parking and storage, aviation-related ground and building rent, landing fees, and fuel flowage fees. Additional revenue is possible by renting airport property not needed for aviation use to non-aviation related developers, provided these developers build airport-compatible facilities (see Land Use Toolkit). GA airports may own hangars and buildings outright, or may lease property to private developers who build facilities. The amount of revenue airports can generate is highly dependent upon the airport’s location. For example, a metropolitan reliever airport generally has more revenue generating potential than many rural GA airports as a function of the number and types of airport users. The topic of revenue generation is currently being explored through ACRP 03-39 Generating Revenue from Commercial Development On or Adjacent to Airports which will be a valuable resource for this topic. The report is due out in early 2017.

It is not uncommon for GA airports to operate at a loss. Airports are capital-intensive enterprises, and the amount of money needed to meet FAA safety and operational requirements generally far outweighs the ability of GA airports to generate revenue. Financially, however, it makes sense for the airport sponsor to subsidize a GA airport in order to receive broader economic benefits. The airport’s economic value is discussed in detail in the Economic Toolkit.

Commercial service airports have similar revenue sources to GA airports. However, airports with scheduled commercial passenger and cargo airline service have additional sources of revenue such as rent and usage fees, concession revenue and PFCs, and the potential to house more lease-paying businesses within the terminal to support scheduled commercial passenger airline operations. Examples of leasable space at commercial service airports include airline ticketing, baggage, lounge, and staff offices, restaurants, hotels, car rental companies, and food, beverage and retail concessionaires. Landing fees are typically tied to aircraft landed weight, so airports with heavier aircraft will see additional revenue from this source (but also often additional costs—landing fees are usually cost-recovery only). Airports with sufficient traffic can generate revenue by selling advertising space in terminals, garages, and other locations [FAA funds pay for terminals, and airports sell advertising there].

Airline fees are typically negotiated with tenant airlines collectively, (see Air Service).

In addition to the information on specific types of operating revenue provided here, revenue received for major improvement projects, called capital revenues, are addressed as part of Federal, State and Local Funding Sources for Airports.