Introduction of airport
Virtually all airports were traditionally owned by the public sector. European airports serving major cities such as Paris, London, Dublin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Madrid, and Geneva were all
owned by national governments, as were many other airports outside Europe such as those in Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney, and Johannesburg. Elsewhere, local governments, either at a regional or municipal level, were the airport owners. This was the situation with most US airports. Regional airports in the United Kingdom also followed this pattern. Manchester airport, for example, was owned by
a consortium of local authorities with 55 per cent ownership resting with Manchester City Council and the remaining 45 per cent split evenly among eight councils of other nearby towns. In Germany, Düsseldorf airport was jointly owned by the governments of North Rhine, Westfalia state and the city of Düsseldorf, while the joint owners of Hanover airport were the governments of the state of Lower Saxony and the city of Hanover.
With a number of airports, there may have been both local and national government interest. For example, Frankfurt airport was jointly owned by the state of Hesse (45 per cent), the city of Frankfurt (29 per cent), and the federal government (26 per cent).
It was only in the 1990s that there started to be a signifi cant presence of privately, or partially privately, owned airports. Before this the only privately owned airports were small general aviation (GA) or aeroclub airports, and so the infl uence of the private sector on the airport industry was very limited. Thus public ownership – either at a local and/or national level – used to be the norm. However, the way in which the government owners chose to operate or manage the airports varied quite signifi cantly and had a major impact on the airport’s degree of independence and autonomy. The strictest form of control existed...
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