ACI-NA/IPI Airport Survey story

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Tracking Trends The 2016 ACI-NA/IPI Parking Survey reveals eye-opening results.

› TRACKING T R E N D S ›› By Gavin Duncan

The 2016 ACI-NA/IPI Parking Survey reveals eyeopening results.

›› T

his spring, the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), an organization representing airport operators in the U.S. and Canada, and the International Parking Institute (IPI) published the results of the 2016 ACI-NA/IPI Parking Survey, conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. The survey results include data describing airport parking revenues and transactions, products and services, facility types, and the resources and methods used to operate parking facilities and shuttle buses. ACI-NA has conducted surveys of airport parking every three to five years since 1970; the most recent previous survey was conducted in 2011. The results have been useful to airport staff, consultants, and others seeking to benchmark an airport’s parking operations. For this reason, the data were summarized by airport hub size.1 The 2016 survey reflects input from 17 U.S. large-hub, 15 U.S. medium-hub, 26 U.S. small-hub, and eight Canadian airports. It focused on gathering the specific information needed by the airport staff responsible for parking operations on a day-to-day basis. Because the survey was conducted in 2016, survey participants provided


data for 2015, the most recent full calendar year. The data provided in the survey were for a period where many airports were experiencing the introduction and/or rapid growth of transportation network companies (TNCs), such as UberX and Lyft. Therefore, the 2015 parking data likely do not reflect the full effect of these services. To identify that, the Airport Cooperative Research Program will release a synthesis report in late 2017 that will summarize the changes in parking and rental car revenues that appear to be due to the introduction of TNC services, among other topics.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines large-, medium-, and small-hub airports according to the proportion of annual national aircraft boardings that an airport serves. There are about 30 large hubs, 30 medium hubs, and 60 small hubs in the U.S.




Revenues A significant portion of the survey was devoted to public parking revenues. This is not surprising given that parking revenues are particularly important to airport management because the FAA requires them to be financially self-supporting (i.e., they do not receive support from local taxpayers). Airline fees and charges are the largest source of airport revenues, but when establishing these charges, airports consider their goal of attracting additional air service and maintain existing service (to benefit the local community). Thus, enhancing non-airline revenue is particularly important to an airport. Further, depending on their airline agreement, management may have greater flexibility in the use of

parking revenues than revenues from other sources. As shown below, parking revenues are the largest source of non-airline revenues, representing more than 40 percent of all non-aeronautical revenues. Public parking is also one of the few areas influencing the customer’s experience that airport management control directly, unlike the airline ticket counters, baggage check-in and claim, security screening, or food, beverage, and retail shops. Survey results for annual gross parking revenues are shown in Figure 2. As shown, while the median reported revenues for large hubs were approximately $63.4 million, 25 percent of responding large hubs reported more than $90 million in revenues, including one reporting $170 million.

Total 2015 Operating Revenues for All U.S. Airports (in millions)

Source: FAA, AAS-400, CATS Report 127



* Includes revenues for services such as telecommunications, internet access, advertising, barbershops, shoeshine stands, spas, and revenues from other non-aeronautical terminal uses not otherwise listed.


Annual Gross Parking Revenues

Median-hub airports not only reported lower revenues (as expected) than large hubs but also demonstrated much less variation. This is due primarily to many large hubs (such as Charlotte Douglas International Airport) serving a high share of connecting passengers (who do not use the airport’s parking facilities, unlike originating/terminating airline passengers) and others (such as Orlando and Las Vegas-McCarran international airports) serving a high share of visitors (who do not park at this destination airport, unlike local residents), while most medium and small hubs serve very little connecting traffic and are less likely to be dominated by visiting passengers. Large hubs are also located near major urban centers where parking prices (especially in the downtown core) are likely more expensive than in smaller cities. Thus, airline passengers parking at large hubs are likely already used to paying higher parking rates. Because public parking revenues are closely tied to resident originating/terminating passengers, the revenue per originating enplanement is considered a more useful benchmarking metric. The following chart summarizes this metric for the airports responding to the survey. As shown, the median revenue per originating passenger is almost identical across hub sizes, though large-hub airports continue to have more variation than other hub sizes. This table summarizes this metric from the 2001, 2012, and 2016 ACI-NA parking surveys: 2001 Survey

2012 Survey

2016 Survey

Large Hubs




Medium Hubs




Small Hubs





Parking Revenue per Originating Enplanement

As shown, 2001 to 2012 showed significant growth in revenue per originating passenger across all hub sizes, with large hubs increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9 percent (9.3 percent, adjusted for inflation) and medium hubs increasing at CAGR of 10.2 percent (7.6 percent, adjusted for inflation). This rapid increase reflects the concerted effort many airports placed on increasing parking revenues as they strove to increase revenues from a revenue source they could directly influence and increase market share (vs. privately operated, off-airport businesses). From 2012 to 2016, the growth rate slowed, but largehub revenues per originating passenger still increased at a CAGR of 6.2 percent (4.8 percent adjusted for inflation), and medium hub revenues per originating passenger increased at a CAGR of 4 percent (2.6 percent adjusted for inflation). By 2016, median revenue per passenger was similar across large, medium, and small hubs, likely due to the increased awareness across the industry of parking strategies (such as products, services, and amenities) that would contribute toward increased revenues. AUGUST 2017 | INTERNATIONAL PARKING INSTITUTE


Many airports now offer valet parking, car washing/servicing, electric vehicle charging stations, frequent shuttle services that pick up and drop off customers at their cars, and wayfinding systems that indicate the number of available spaces by facility, garage level, and parking aisle and direct customers to specific empty spaces.


Operating Costs

Parking transactions have experienced the opposite trend. In 2012, large, medium, and small hubs experienced 290, 325, and 547 parking transactions per originating passenger, respectively. By 2016, this ratio had dropped to 232, 247, and 466, respectively. This is likely due to the continued erosion of the willingness of meeter-greeters and well-wishers to park while picking up and dropping off passengers. A similar decline in transactions started in 2001 due to the post-9/11 prohibition of well-wishers and meeter-greeters accompanying passengers to and from the gate, along with increased enforcement of curbside policies limiting vehicle dwell times. By 2012, however,

Another key factor in an airport’s ability to maximize non-aeronautical revenue is the cost of maintaining and operating parking facilities. Of the airports responding to the 2016 survey, large-hub airport parking operating costs represented approximately 18 percent of gross revenues. For medium- and small-hub airports, the operating cost share of gross revenues was approximately 22 percent and 30 percent, respectively. As with the survey results for revenues, operating cost results reflected specific characteristics of each airport, such as location (i.e., need for snow and ice removal), the age and condition of parking facilities, costs of labor, and the proportion of spaces provided in structures versus surface lots (especially those served by shuttle buses).

Products, Services, and Amenities

Airport electric vehicle charging station.


these effects had substantially been incorporated into driver behavior, meaning that other factors drove the 2012–2016 continued decline. While the specific factors contributing to the decline in short-duration transactions certainly vary from airport to airport, one frequent contributing factor is the perceived lack of convenient short-term parking. Even if an airport’s close-in parking facility has ample capacity, meeters/greeters and well-wishers may be reluctant to use it if they learn (or believe) that available spaces are usually inconveniently located in the rear of the facility or on high or uncovered garage floors. Typically, over time, the most-convenient spaces at airports tend to be occupied by customers parking for multiple days (infrequent turnover), displacing short-duration customers.


The 2016 survey also revealed an increasing willingness by airports to implement more creative parking products and services as they attempt to enhance the customer experience and increase net revenues. Many airports now offer valet parking, car washing/servicing, electric vehicle charging stations, frequent shuttle services that pick up and drop off customers at their cars, and wayfinding systems that indicate the number of available spaces by facility, garage level, and parking aisle and direct customers to specific empty spaces. Customers can access this information via the web, their phones, or changeable message signs as they approach the terminal area. Some airports allow customers to check their bags remotely rather than having to lug them from a remote lot to the terminal. To attract frequent parkers traveling on business— who are often willing to pay higher fees for added convenience and comfort—airports frequently offer higher-priced products. About 17 percent of responding airports indicated they offered one or more “premium” products. Such products allow customers and businesses to use the web to reserve or guarantee a space (within a facility or zone or even a specific space), participate in a loyalty (i.e., frequent-parker) program, and/or receive free parking or discounts on stores and restaurants in the terminal. In addition to providing benefits to customers, these products and services provide valuable management tools to the airport. An airport that allows customers to make advance reservations for parking can also allow (or require) them to pre-pay for parking, which, in turn, provides an opportunity to adjust the price offered individual customers without changing prices for all

Parking availability indicators. Parking loyalty program members, many of whom may fly from the airport several times during a year, also provide airports with a source for research (such as surveys and focus groups) as airports seek to test and evaluate new products and services, which may or may not be related to parking.

customers. Thus, prices can be constantly manipulated to reflect: ● An individual parker’s travel itinerary. Not only can prices vary based on a customer’s departure day and expected parking duration, but some airports offer discounts for parkers traveling to specific airline destinations. ● Historical data regarding daily, weekly, and seasonal demand for certain products. ● A customer’s willingness to pay certain prices if they participate in a parking loyalty program. This may reflect the availability and cost of other access options as well as the employer’s willingness to reimburse for certain airport parking products. Airports with such tools can use them to “yield manage” their parking facilities to maximize revenue as well as balance demand among available facilities to ensure that customers are not turned away. Furthermore, airports offering a parking loyalty program use it to drive business to other areas of the airport, such as in-terminal concessions, by offering coupons and rewards linked to parking activity. Parking loyalty program members, many of whom may fly from the airport several times during a year, also provide airports with a source for research (such as surveys and focus groups) as airports seek to test and evaluate


new products and services, which may or may not be related to parking. The 2016 survey confirmed that U.S. and Canadian airports continue to improve their ability to generate non-aeronautical revenues from public parking but that the rate of increase has slowed in recent years as airports have increasingly already implemented the strategies generating the largest uplifts in parking revenues. The survey also showed that this revenue increase occurred despite the continued shrinking share of drivers choosing to park as they drop off and/or pick up airline passengers. Lastly, as airports continue to pursue higher revenues from sources that they not only can directly influence, but have few restrictions of use of those revenues, they are increasingly implementing products and services that enhance the customer’s overall airport experience and their willingness to pay for parking. Download the whole report at resource-center. Author’s Note. Thanks to the airport staff who participated in the survey, members of the technical advisory committee, and InterVISTAS’s Peter Mandle and Stephanie Box, who were instrumental in the development and conduct of the survey and preparation of this article.

GAVIN DUNCAN is senior vice president of InterVISTAS Consulting. He can be reached at gavin.duncan@



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