Reacting to the news that the moving walkways on United’s C concourse at Chicago O’Hare are being removed after the walkways in DFW’s D terminal were taken out in order to encourage more retail shopping, David B. e-mails,
[Moving walkways are] already gone from Terminal C in Newark, makes traveling with the three kids much worse.
And as much as foodies love the new restaurant selection in Newark, it’s terrible for families, expensive, slow, and not the sorts of food kids want to eat.
It seems worth explaining why airports want to encourage shopping and restaurant sales, and especially high-end sales — and why it would be worth a million dollars to rip out moving walkways.
Airports have a huge incentive to attract high price, high margin businesses and drive up their revenue.
- Restaurant costs are really high inside a terminal, and airport security makes them even higher (tethered knives, screening of ingredients coming in). Airport conditions are why airport restaurants are usually so bad.
- Airports as public entities make things more expensive too, there are often monopoly suppliers of certain goods that all restaurants are restricted too. (You may notice only a single kind of bottled water in some airports, and restaurants may be permitted to buy wine from only a single supplier.)
- Airports are taking a percentage of revenue off the top as part of concessions leases.
Airports want restaurants to have enough of a margin to cover the extra costs of operating inside the airport, in order to afford expensive leases, even at the same time they often impose ‘street pricing’ (most often restrictions that prices at an airport vendor cannot be more than 10% over what is charged for the same goods outside the airport).
And airports want retail outlets to earn as much gross revenue as possible, since they usually take a percentage off the top.
That works for many passengers, airline passengers are often expensing their meals and in any case have higher than average incomes overall. But for families buying meals not just for one or two people but for four or five, it gets expensive.