Funding and Operating Airports through P3s

The private sector has always been involved in the funding and operation of concessions at airports, but airport sponsors are increasingly turning to the private sector for the financing of crucial airport infrastructure—terminals, airfield improvements, passenger support functions, and ancillary facilities.  Public-private partnerships (P3s) offer opportunities and flexibility that are not available with traditional Airport Improvement Program and PFC funding.  As airport sponsors explore the world of public-private partnerships, they often call upon Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell to provide counsel on the structuring of P3 transactions, negotiation of contracts, licenses and agreements, development of requests for proposals, and monitoring of private operators to ensure compliance with regulatory and contract requirements.

Beyond traditional P3 arrangements, airport proprietors also seek the Firm’s counsel on the structuring of project delivery in light of each proprietor’s objectives and legal framework.  Whether it be construction manager at risk, design-build, design-build-finance-operate-maintain, or the myriad other permutations of project delivery, the Firm’s attorneys are familiar with advising clients on the optimal and most cost-effective mechanism for their particular projects.  We recognize that no single delivery method fits all projects—even all projects for the same airport.  Our attorneys are frequently called up to educate airport management and local elected officials on the benefits and risks associated with various delivery methods.

Representative Experience

  • Represented the sponsor of a large industrial airport in the Pacific Northwest in the planning and implementation of first-time commercial passenger service; engagement included completion of required environmental review and the successful negotiation of a concession contract for a private entity to design-build-operate-maintain all passenger functions (including a new terminal building).
  • Represented a private sector investor in the planning for and development of a new privately-funded passenger terminal at one of the busiest and most space-constrained urban airports in the country
  • Represented the private sector operator of commercial passenger service functions at an airport in the Pacific Northwest in negotiations with air carriers for use of the privately constructed and operated passenger terminal
  • Represented the sponsor of a large commercial service airport in Texas in negotiation of a unique transaction in which the dominant air carrier financed and constructed a major terminal expansion
  • Represented a small commercial airport in the Northeast in the development of a request for proposals to privatize the fuel farm and fuel supply function for the entire airport
  • Represented the sponsor of a major hub airport in the Rocky Mountain region in securing the federal and local approvals for, and creating the legal structure of, a joint public-private effort to develop a major office, commercial, and industrial center (and accompanying mass transit station) on airport property and adjacent private property
  • Represented the sponsor of one of the nation’s largest hub airports in the negotiation of a complex use and lease agreement with its dominant carrier in which the carrier would provide financing for a significant terminal expansion
  • Represented the sponsor of a regionally important commercial airport in the Midwest in the negotiation of a partnership with a local technical college for the construction and operation of ARFF training facilities
  • Represented the proprietor of a large West Coast hub in securing regulatory and environmental approvals for a large-scale and innovative landside program being procured through P3 models
  • Represented the private sector operator of a large international airport in ensuring regulatory compliance with FAA requirements that generally apply only to airports that are owned by government entities