A report by Airports Council International released on Monday says that airports are making more money than ever before, mostly from non-aeronautical revenue.
According to the report, non-aeronautical revenue accounted for 44.8 percent of total operating revenue, or $7.56 billion compared with $9.31 billion, or 55.2 percent in regular aeronautical revenues.
The majority of the revenue came from parking and ground transportation, which clocked in at $3.1 billion, or 41.2 percent of the total, with rental cars and retail and duty-free making up $1.5 billion and $630 million, respectively.
According to the report, 70 percent of airports are now focusing on increasing non-aviation revenue as a way to cope with the volatility of the airlines business cycle, including selling to non-flying passengers, which is a big change from 1990 when only a third of airports were trying to tap the wallets of those customers.
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One of the biggest growth markets in airports is automated retail units selling products from everything from hair care products (in FDA-friendly 3-oz. units) to the latest technology. According to the survey, 50 percent of America’s airports now have a number of these retail kiosks, up from 41 percent in 2012.
The kiosks are being placed in areas that would not be able to host normal-sized shopping units and can offer passengers last-minute purchases.
In other findings, the Airport Council International survey found that just 39 percent of airports in North America have a mobile app, and that 78 percent of these apps use them to promote concessions.