Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Airports: From users of energy to sources of energy

November 17, 2014

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Plane photo courtesy of Pexels

As airlines continue to consolidate and look for ways to cut expenses from the bottom line, airports have borne the brunt of these cuts.  Airports make money from airlines through everything from space rental to landing fees that can bring in millions of dollars a year.

But when that money is cut, airports still need to operate, so some have gotten creative with how they do that.  Take the case of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which signed a deal with Chesapeake Energy in October 2006 to lease land to develop natural gas. It was a great deal for DFW, bringing in more than $300 million in revenues.

Pittsburgh International Airport has worked hard to maintain its financial footing after it was dehubbed by US Airways in 2004 (I wrote about that here). The airport has had challenges paying off more than $600 million in debt acquired when it built a new terminal for the carrier in 1992.

So the airport partnered with CONSOL Energy to start natural gas development on facility lands. The Allegheny County Airport Authority, which oversees Pittsburgh airport, received $50 million when the project started in October. CONSOL Energy expects the project to generate  approximately $500 million in royalties for the airport through 2018, along with another $500 billion worth of jobs on public works projects in the region. Pittsburgh can use the revenue to pay down debt and make the airport for financially attractive and competitive for existing and new airlines.


DFW/Chesapeake Agreement

Pittsburgh Airport natural gas

Benét J. Wilson is co-editor of and blogs at She has been an aviation/travel journalists for more than 20 years. Follow her on Twitter @AvQueenBenet

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