The starting point for a new airport is to determine whether it is an expansion of an existing airport, or is being built to reduce the traffic at an existing airport, or is a new airport at a new location. Once this is sorted out, we move to the steps involved.
The first step is the techno-economic feasibility study. The technical and non-technical factors are studied in depth. The second step will be the Environment Impact Assessment. If significant environmental factors are involved, usually an expert is appointed who will make his appraisal after his site visit. The technical team will then have to incorporate environmental concerns into the project design. A contingency plan will also be worked out. The third step is the business plan. Then come the permissions and actual implementation.
Coming to the question asked, the location is influenced by the following factors:
- Why is the airport being developed? If it is an expansion, obviously, the location will be the same or an extension of the existing airport. If it is to reduce the traffic of an existing airport, it should be within a reasonable distance of it. Pre-existing connectivity between the two locations will be an added advantage. Else it should be practically viable to connect the two.
- Is it environmentally feasible? How grave are the environmental issues? Sometimes a technically and financially perfect location has to be sacrificed for unresolvable environmental issues. Countries are now aiming to have “Greenfield” airports.
- The location of the new airport should cater to growth in population, and commercial and business activities.
- The ease or difficulty in land acquisition for the project is another important criteria while deciding on location.
Once these questions are answered satisfactorily, we move to development of the airport.
Factors affecting development of the airport are:
- Development should be able to absorb growth in passengers, cargo, aircrafts, and airlines companies.
- The development should address the existing demographic and socio-economic scenario and should be able to enrich it.
- Availability of water, power and airport accessibility are prime factors in the success of the airport.
- Finance has a major impact on the overall development and growth of the airport. There are many pre-development activities involved and they entail finance. Also the airport is created in a phased manner. So how the money is raised is critical to its financial viability.
- Project approvals and clearances take time which implies costs.