The 'ABC' project. Airports and Behavioural Change: towards environmental surface access travel

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Civil and Building Engineering


The rise in demand for air travel and strategic expansion of hinterland activity at airports, to maximise consumer demand and throughput, has far-reaching impacts. Whilst delivering economic and social benefits, there are also negative repercussions in terms of resource use, global environmental damage and impact upon quality of life in the locality. This project responds to an identified research gap into energy efficiency of airport operations and is an outcome of the Airport Operations IDEAS sandpit. It employs methodological expertise and research subject knowledge from Loughborough University, Cranfield University and University of Leeds to provide outputs directly relevant to the aviation industry and policy-makers. Adopting a multidisciplinary research approach, this project extends beyond the airport boundaries, and considers the surface transport implications, driven by access demands for the terminal and surrounding facilities. Whilst focussed on passenger decisions and access mode choices, it also examines the impact of employees, service providers and other logistical activities particularly for the airports but also surrounding enterprises. Overall the purpose of this research is to find proactive solutions to the challenge of encouraging better environmental behaviour of individuals to and from airports, in a bid to reduce the carbon intensive nature of the whole system. It will examine the generated travel of both an international and regional airport and explore how technology and innovative systems can influence individual and segment travel behaviour. Initially, a state-of-the-art review will examine airport surface access issues, formed of: a literature review, user group profiling; determining the carbon footprint of airports and generated traffic; and key stakeholder engagement, including a Delphi study to initiate scenario development. Secondly a technology evaluation will consider the application and potential of innovations to reduce airport access route travel demand. Thirdly, the receptiveness for individuals to select existing and future options for energy efficient travel will be explored using revealed and stated preference data; advanced discrete choice models will be determine individual and segment willingness to pay for realistic technology advances. Finally, the carbon reduction potential of interventions will be assessed, to provide a basis for effective investment, and propose policy recommendations for a more efficient airport system.


10 25 50
publication icon
Budd T (2014) Airport ground access and private car use: a segmentation analysis in Journal of Transport Geography

publication icon
Budd T (2011) Airport surface access in the UK: A management perspective in Research in Transportation Business & Management

publication icon
Tom Budd (Author) (2011) Airport Surface Access Management: Issues and Policies in Journal of Airport Management

Description The aim of the multi-disciplinary 'ABC' (Airports and Behavioural Change) project was to encourage better environmental behaviour of individuals travelling to and from airports (surface access), focusing on the year 2020. An international (Manchester International Airport - MAN) and a regional (Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield - RHADS) airport were selected as project case studies. As part of the initial stage, qualitative interviews with stakeholders and passengers were conducted. The need to reduce passenger journeys by private car (particularly 'drop-off/pick-up' trips) and increase public transport use was identified as a key issue, although airports have substantial commercial pressures to maximise the revenue potential of parking. Passengers most likely to drop-off/pick-up, or 'drive & park', were identified as: holidaymakers, those in groups and those with a lot of luggage. Passengers and employees had difficulties with the lack of public transport in the early mornings.

Passenger carbon emission calculations were estimated using CAA passenger data and a staff survey for MAN. The total cost of the damage caused by carbon dioxide from passengers' surface access was estimated to be £8.5 million (2009 prices). The highest emissions were from drop-off/pick-up (221 g/km, 57% of total emissions) and taxi (229 g/km) trips, followed by drive & park, minicab, rail and bus (at 50 g/km the lowest). Leisure passengers generated lower emissions levels than business travellers due to higher load factors.

The potential of three technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions for airport surface access journeys was evaluated. Firstly, telepresence was considered, whereby relatives or friends could order an on-demand event to say goodbye from home rather than travel to an airport to drop-off/pick-up a passenger. Telepresence may offer a realistic experience and be feasible for 2020 as market presence increases and installation/usage costs decrease. Secondly, techniques to encourage public transport use were investigated using the RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging of luggage. Thirdly, a software tool was developed concerning the encouragement of ride-sharing. A futuristic network of airport terminal base stations was developed that would enable such a tool to be implemented.

Primary data was collected from three quantitative based surveys of over 2,000 respondents: passengers at MAN and RHADS, and the general public in a North England internet survey. Public transport users were shown to typically travel in smaller groups than car users and to not carry much luggage. The questionnaires also incorporated psychological and econometric techniques; behavioural intention and personal utility maximisation were much stronger determinants of surface access behaviour than personal moral obligations. Eight attitude-based segments (e.g. 'complacent motorists', 'environmental champions') were generated using cluster analysis; this enables policy interventions to be appropriately targeted.

There was some willingness amongst respondents to consider the technological innovations. However, there does need to be a greater consumer understanding of the innovations and many are put off car-sharing due to the thought of travelling with strangers. Of the policy interventions evaluated, the most promising from an environmental standpoint are employee car-sharing and the introduction of airport charges for drop-off/pick-up journeys. The marginal cost of the damage caused by carbon dioxide per drop-off/pick-up trip has been calculated as £2.16, a useful figure to assist in the setting of the charge level. There has been direct dissemination with MAN and RHADS, plus a follow-on project to determine ABC project impacts at Heathrow airport. In addition, dissemination (and training) with wider stakeholders has been possible through the associated Airport Energy Technologies Network (AETN) project.
Exploitation Route There is potential use of the research findings at airports as well as associated stakeholders (e.g. policy-holders, airlines). Eploitation is generated through one of the other Airport Operations projects, the Airport Energy Technologies Network (AETN).
Sectors Environment,Transport

Description There was direct impact to airports as well as other aviation stakeholders. Of the airport policy interventions evaluated, the most promising from an environmental standpoint were employee car-sharing and the introduction of airport charges for drop-off/pick-up journeys. There was direct dissemination of the findings to the airports involved (Manchester & Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield), as well as other wider aviation events (e.g. through the associated AETN dissemination project), plus a follow-on project to determine ABC project impacts at Heathrow airport.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Environment,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Surface Connectivity Report: Assessing the merits of the Airports Commission's options for UK aviation
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Independent Transport Commission 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 10/2014