Air and sea - global connectivity that truly matters

Connected Society 13 July 2017 Ralph Guldberg Bjørndal Frantz Buch Knudsen

Seaports and airports are big business. Physically, these structures enable the arrival and departure of people and goods, but they encompass so much more. A seaport gives industry access to foreign markets and facilitates the movement of products and goods. Airports make people mobile. Taking air and sea mobility to the next level requires a joint global effort.

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Connectivity enables a country to attract business investment and human capital. Airports are home to the world’s airlines, an industry whose revenues reached a record USD 708 billion (IATA) in 2013. And seaports have long been identified as important economic and social drivers as well as major employment hubs.

Ports meet a demand for efficient and environmentally sound cargo and goods transport.

"The size of vessels is increasing dramatically. This necessitates more efficient and environmentally sound transport, but port facilities must also be consolidated and expanded, water depths increased and local infrastructure like roads and railways improved. This is all part of the equation when we look at globalisation, technological innovation and the increasing concern about the environmental footprint", explains Bjarne Mathiesen, Senior Market Director, Ports, at Ramboll.

Changing megatrends in the aviation sector

The global economy is slowly emerging from the 2008 recession, and airport infrastructure and air traffic volume and patterns are changing rapidly. Airport facilities are expanding primarily in Asia and the Middle East, while growth remains modest in Europe and North America. The intercontinental hubs have moved from Europe to the Middle East, primarily Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and new innovative carriers are penetrating the market with new business concepts.

Frantz Buch Knudsen, Project Director for Aviation at Ramboll, has analysed the aviation market and sees airports as a crucial connector:

"The aviation sector is essential in developing a global village that connects people and markets all over the world."

According to the ATAC (Air Transport Action Group), the aviation sector accounts for approximately 2% of CO2 emissions worldwide, and it focuses strongly on reducing emissions not only from aircraft in flight but also from the large number of energy-intensive airports.

Numerous new initiatives have been taken in this field, but much remains to be done.

Increasing traffic warrants new airport projects

Over the past decade, new mega-airports – airports costing at least USD 500 million – have rarely been seen outside the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Elsewhere in the world, traffic volume, profits and financial resources have been too low to warrant new airport projects on this scale. This is changing.

Dubrovnik Airport offers an example of new business opportunities and of the significant role airports can play in the larger scheme of global and regional connectivity. The airport is a vital gateway to southern Croatia for the growing holiday market, for business travellers and for domestic traffic between Zagreb and Dubrovnik. The airport will have an even greater impact on the country’s economic and social growth now that Croatia has become the 28th member of the European Union.

Ramboll is a contract management consultant for the expansion of the airport, providing project management on the rehabilitation of the runway and taxiways, as well as on the construction of additional taxiways and a new terminal building. On the airside the project will include a fuel farm and several supply facilities, and landside facilities will also be expanded.

Various EU funds and the European Investment Bank are financing the Dubrovnik Airport project. This funding firmly promotes the view that airports can be substantial drivers of a more connected, sustainable region. Jesper Sundahl, Project Director, Aviation, says:

"This is a rare opportunity to completely renovate and update an airport that also helps to integrate Croatia and the Balkan countries in the EU family."

A new gateway to Asia

With a GDP growth of 7% per year, the Philippines is among the most rapidly expanding economies in Southeast Asia. The Philippine government’s vision is clear: In the coming decades the Philippines should become an economic epicentre of Southeast Asia.

Yet much of the Philippines’ economic and social potential remains untapped, and the country could play a much stronger role in the global village. Experts and politicians agree that a clogged infrastructure is at the heart of the problem.

A multidisciplinary team of experts from Ramboll’s Aviation team, the Global Port Sector and the Transportation Planning and Urban Development Department has already conducted the feasibility studies for the combined Sangley Airport and Seaport Project in Manila.

Securing a sustainable port development

The All-Asia Resources and Reclamation Corporation (ARRC) in the Philippines – the private developer on the project – commissioned a study that includes a new international airport and seaport with supporting traffic infrastructure comprising roads, bridges, an immersed tunnel and a light rail connection.

The new international airport will be state-of-the-art, with an ultimate capacity of 90 million passengers per year. The new seaport will be configured as a modern terminal with the latest logistics and equipment technology, initially handling two million containers (TEU) annually, but with the capacity to expand to as many as ten million containers (TEU) in stages.

The expansion element ensures that the seaport can respond to changing needs, potential downsizing or even the relocation of the existing terminals in the city centre, thus securing the sustainable development of the port in future.

Establishing the new airport and seaport on reclaimed land in the outskirts of Metro Manila offers some unique possibilities and advantages. The seaport will be located close to important existing and planned special economic industrial zones in the vicinity.

Reducing the overall transport of containers on the Manila road network and enabling short-distance container transport between the seaport and the industrial zones will relieve some of the serious congestion problems in Metro Manila.

Positive interaction with stakeholders

A large number of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transport, airport and port authorities, urban development authorities, economic zone authorities and the national development board have all been consulted in the process.

This extremely positive interaction has shown how dialogue can turn a set of common goals into results, in this case a multidisciplinary gateway project that will help unlock Manila’s and the Philippines’ strong economic potential while also contributing to new, sustainable developments in the city centre.

Port projects are generally becoming increasingly complex and challenging. They tend to be high profile and often entail integrated transport systems involving rail, road, seaports and airports.

They’re projects we want to work on.