Airport Capital Project Evaluation and Research Demand

Geoff Emeigh

Airport executives and project managers recognize the importance of and difficulty in controlling the cost of projects to build new facilities and modernize sites. Even relatively simple airport capital projects such as building an airplane hangar or renovating a parking garage entail unique labor and sourcing challenges that complicate construction. Often, these projects are located in or near operational airports handling around-the-clock flight and guest service activities. Security offers up another set of issues unique to airport capital projects. In addition, unlike other commercial infrastructure projects, a complex set of public and private sector stakeholders are usually involved.

With an estimated $1.5 trillion expected to be spent on airport infrastructure projects by 2030, according to the International Air Transportation Association, there are plenty of reasons for airport owners and operators to seek project cost effectiveness improvements. The difficulty lies in having access to reliable project cost and performance information. There is also much to be learned about the practices to promote project planning and execution efficiencies.

At an Airports Project Benchmarking Research Consortium hosted by Independent Project Analysis (IPA), Inc. in September 2018, representatives of eight airports and regional airport authorities met to explore opportunities to improve capital project outcomes at their sites. During the 1.5-day gathering in Northern Virginia, airport project leaders reviewed the current state of airport capital projects, based on the data available from project assessments completed by IPA. The consortium’s participants also heard IPA presentations on Best Practices for creating quality project cost estimates and the importance of project shaping and stakeholder alignment. Cost overestimation, due to a heavy reliance on information provided by contractors, is not uncommon, according to a report by IPA Advanced Associate Project Analyst Maria Pinilla.

Following these presentations, airport capital project leaders discussed a wide range of complexities to consider when analyzing and benchmarking airport projects. A consensus was reached that the continued collection of project data would serve the industry’s best interest. They also agreed on the need for the development of additional cost and schedule models and the evaluation of airport project work processes. Measuring the effect of the constantly evolving technology requirements on airport projects and labor wage and productivity assessments are among the other topics that received attention during the consortium.

Long recognized as the authority for capital project evaluations and research, IPA maintains detailed data in its capital projects database from completed airport projects and similar infrastructure investments. These data are valuable to airport executives and project leaders interested in determining the reliability of their project cost and schedule estimates. IPA has assessed several airport project systems to uncover potential planning gaps that threaten to derail airport project schedules and increase costs. Evaluations of individual airport projects conducted by IPA generally show opportunities for increased capital efficiencies. IPA also offers a wide range of products and services to determine whether project teams are adequately staffed and examine whether certain contracting strategies are well suited for a project.

If you are interested in learning more about how IPA can help improve the capital effectiveness of Airport modernization projects, please complete the form below to start a discussion.

Get more details

  • Read our Privacy Policy
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.