airLED: Cooperation in airport development helps boost regional economies

An inter-regional cooperation project in Central Europe is encouraging the sharing of best practices in airport planning, by studying the economic impact of local airports upon their catchment areas. It is hoped that such analysis can improve local economic and urban development strategies, boosting airport competitiveness and generating new business.

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As markets become increasing international, airports and their neighbourhoods are being seen as catalysts for local economic development. As markets become increasing international, airports and their neighbourhoods are being seen as catalysts for local economic development.

" The airLED case studies of airports in different phases of their lives do not simply tell us what the critical facts are, but also throw some light on the possible solutions to problems – and the various development paths that can be taken. "

Krisztián Karácsony, Senior Consultant of Ecorys Hungary Kft.

The airLED consortium brought together four regions in Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovenia with the aim of conducting an in-depth analysis of the challenges facing each of these economically isolated airport areas, identifying their assets, and establishing long-term development strategies.

Identifying success factors through research

The study pays particular attention to factors that influence an airport region’s future development, including spatial, environmental, architectural and economic characteristics, and their direct and indirect impacts on the airport zone. To understand the possible size and volume of future economic developments, researchers are also investigating the current financial and infrastructural positions of the airport and its business partners.

New network of Airport Cities

The airLED project has brought together stakeholders from all involved regions in order to share experiences and best practices with a common vision of creating a network of new Airport Cities. Professional institution partners include the Regional Development Coordination Bodies (RDCB), and the Assessment and Support Group (ASG). Moreover, the project objective will be achieved through the elaboration of a European report on the sustainable development of the new Airport Cities, which will be further implemented via an intensive process of Open Living Labs (OLL).

Combining both research and the insights gathered at the stakeholders’ meetings, airLED is thus developing a clear strategic plan for the creation of economic zones where investors are entitled to allowances, improved infrastructure, and a skilled workforce, all set within robust social and economic environments. The objective is for these zones to provide incentives for increased investments that will create new jobs and enhance the viability of the involved regions.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Local Economic Development in Airport Catchment Areas (airLED)” is EUR 1 649 937, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 367 270.15, from the Operational Programme “Central Europe”, for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

10/12/2014