Effects of non-aeronautical activities at airports on the public transport access system: A case study of Zurich Airport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, planning - service rationalisation, planning - service improvement, planning - travel demand management, operations - capacity, ridership - demand, land use - impacts, land use - planning


Airport planning, Airport ground access, Airport city, Public transport, Commercial activity, Non-aeronautical activity


Many planning authorities and airports study measures to increase public transport use for airport ground access and egress. At the same time, an increase in real estate development at and around airports is occurring, both due to airports seeking new revenue possibilities and other developers attempting to profit from high value locations. This paper considers non-aeronautical activities at large airports, largely commercial centres and transit hubs, as land uses that have the potential to improve the situation for operating public transport services. In order to assess potential benefits and disadvantages, four research questions are considered: (1) Can the additional travel volume reach levels at which it has a significant impact? (2) To what extent do non-aeronautical activities influence the public transport access system? (3) Is the resulting demand distribution better or worse regarding peaking behaviour? (4) Is there a potential for the resulting overall demand to bring about capacity shortages?

A case study is conducted at the airport of Zurich, Switzerland, which finds that non-aeronautical activities in the direct airport vicinity have led to a situation where the operation of public transport services is much more viable due to overall higher passenger numbers and a more even distribution throughout the day. It is concluded that locating non-aeronautical activities at airports can, in addition to providing commercial benefits to developers, lead to a situation where improved public transport services become feasible.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Journal of Air Transport Management