SIC 4581 Airports, Flying Fields, and Airport Terminal Services


SIC 4581

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in operating and maintaining airports and flying fields; servicing, repairing (except on a factory basis), maintaining, and storing aircraft; and furnishing coordinated handling services for airfreight or passengers at airports. This industry also includes private establishments primarily engaged in air traffic control operations. Government air traffic control operations are classified in SIC 9621: Regulation and Administration of Transportation Programs. Aircraft modification centers and establishments primarily engaged in factory type overhaul of aircraft are classified in transportation equipment industries, and flying fields maintained by aviation clubs are classified in SIC 7997: Membership Sports and Recreation Clubs.



Air Traffic Control


Other Airport Operations


Janitorial Services


Other Support Activities for Air Transportation


The North American Airports Council International (NAACI) estimated that the total economic impact of U.S. airports was over $550 billion annually. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 19,576 airports operated in the United States at the end of 2004. Of that total, 14,296 were for private use. Of the 5,280 were open to the public, 79 percent (4,177) were publicly owned, and the remaining 21 percent (1,103) were privately owned. In the mid-2000s the United States accounted for nearly 30 percent of commercial aviation and 50 percent of general aviation in the world. With more than five of the top ten busiest airports in the world, North America transports more passengers and cargo via air than any other region.

The airport, flying field, and airport terminal services industry can be divided into two distinct parts. One segment of the industry offers airport terminal services, covering everything from baggage handling to food service. Typically these companies work with commercial airlines, both domestic and international, and airport management. The other segment of the industry offers aircraft services, including maintenance, repair, aircraft conversion, and sales of equipment and parts. These companies work with commercial passenger airlines but have also provided service to the U.S. military, to makers and end users of general aviation aircraft, and to air cargo carriers.

Airports that can increase the number of runways and thus increase capacity stand to benefit more than those airports that do not have more room for additional runways. Although the decrease in traffic following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States eased congestion at airports across the globe, by 2004 passenger numbers once again topped 2000 levels. With increased security measures, increased number of regional carriers and low-cost carriers, and record passenger numbers, major airports in the mid-2000s were often congested and delays were increasing.

The five largest airports in the United States based on domestic passenger enplanements in 2004 were Atlanta Hartsfield (37.7 million), Chicago O'Hare (30.9 million), Dallas/Ft. Worth International (25.7 million), Los Angeles International (21.3 million), and Denver International (19.6 million). Las Vegas McCarran International, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Minneapolis/St. Paul International, Detroit Metro-Wayne County, and Orlando International rounded out the top ten.

The aircraft and airport services industry has always included a broad range of companies, from small private firms to divisions of large conglomerates that offer transportation-related services to divisions within an airline operation. While large organizations with internationally based operations continued to expand their areas of service in an attempt to be a "one-source" provider of an array of airport services, they still had not convinced airports or airlines to outsource en masse. Most airport services contracts continued to be written on an airport-by-airport basis. Consolidation, however, continued as many of the industry's leading players added to their portfolios.


Airports in the United States typically contract with outside vendors for the services they provide to their customers, both airlines and passengers. Those vendors, which make up the companies listed in this industry, provide a number of services to people and to planes. Providers of airport terminal services operate food and beverage concessions, gift shops, and newsstands in airport terminals, while providers of airport passenger services offer bus and limousine operations, consulting and training services, passenger screening, airport security, interline baggage service, and skycaps...

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