Metropolis: MetroAirports, governance and development in airport areas

Metropolis has recently launched a final report on the MetroAirports, an initiative that dealt with economic and social aspects (creation of jobs, economic activity, mobility, access to housing, security) between the airport’s activity and the right to the city. The report shows the results of the case studies of four airport areas (Barcelona-El Prat, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and Paris Charles de Gaulle – Paris Orly) between 2017 and 2019 that were carried out by a team of economists and urban experts from the administration of these metropolises.

This project is an attempt to describe the concept of “airport area” and to broaden the perspective beyond the scope of previous research, with the focus mainly on airports and airport cities. The project has been focused on three aspects related to airport areas: planning, governance, and economic development and employment policies. According to that, airport areas could be defined as a second ring beyond the airport city, i.e. an area strongly and directly influenced by the airport, but not fully controlled by the airport company.


Taking into account the experiences from Barcelona, Atlanta and Île de France, this report also addresses the challenges of the airport areas. Some of them are related with the planning perspective, such as the integration of the cities into the metropolitan program or the coordination of infrastructures (airport, roads, railway). These areas are becoming more and more appealing as a core of logistical and distribution operations. Consequently urban planning and infrastructures of the airport areas should be reinforced.

The report also tackles the demands of improving governance in airport areas. Experts recommend managing the institutional complexity and fragmentation of actors with structures, which most stakeholders feel comfortable and establishing forums for dialogue between the airport and the surrounding area. So a shared vision for the long-term development of the airport area could be built.

This project emphasizes how airport areas play a key role in the economic development of the metropole and in the generation of new job opportunities. In order to reinforce this perspective, airport areas should provide public transport linking residential and business zones in airport areas. It should also promote schemes to enhance the visibility of employment opportunities in the airport area and bring them closer to communities around the airport.

Metropolis > Metropolis brings together the governments of 139 urban agglomerations worldwide. With 33 years of history, today the association is the focal point of expertise on metropolitan governance. Raising the voices of metropolises to the global agenda and building capacity to deliver public policies and services, Metropolis contributes to finding common answers to the challenges of metropolisation.