Jon Howell, Founder & CEO, AviaDev

The Bench, which is well known for organising AviaDev, the premier platform dedicated to growing connectivity to, from, and within the African continent alongside a portfolio of world-class hotel investment conferences, announced on thursday 19 January the creation of AviaDev Real Estate, a new forum connecting African airports with real estate investors, developers and professional advisors.

The forum will be supported by NACO, (Netherlands Airport Consultants), a world leading airport consultancy and engineering firm with a rich history of supporting African airport development.

Most African airports are heavily dependent on aeronautical and passenger related revenues. However, many could enhance their resilience and long-term prosperity with new revenue streams.
For example, it is estimated that only 4% of African airport revenue is derived from real estate*, whereas in other parts of the world, the proportion is typically much greater. Classic airport real estate operations include leasing or selling their surrounding land for use as hotels, offices, car parks and warehouses, in addition to renting space inside terminal buildings for retail, restaurants, etc.

AviaDev Real Estate will connect the owners and operators of African airports to those with the finance, skills and contacts to develop the land and maximise its revenue potential. In turn, the airport industry, benefiting from more diverse real estate revenue streams, will become more resilient to (potential) travel disruption, increase the appeal to new carriers, and ultimately improve air connectivity across the continent.

The forum will comprise pre-arranged, one-on-one meetings, in which participants can discuss specific business opportunities, and an interactive conference programme in which delegates can learn from one another, share ideas and network. Agenda topics will include:How to identify opportunities, zone airport property and plan an airport city; How to prepare a project to be investment ready; How to finance airport real estate projects; what are the business models and what are investors looking for?; Case studies from airports that have successfully benefitted from real estate revenue and Project presentations from airports looking for finance for their real estate projects.

The new event will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi Upper Hill, on Wednesday 14th June, coinciding with the last day of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) and the start of AviaDev.

Jon Howell, CEO & Founder, AviaDev, said: “The synergies that flow from creating an airport real estate forum at the intersection of AHIF and AviaDev are incredibly compelling. Our mandate at AviaDev Africa is to improve air connectivity to, from and within the African continent and I am confident that this forum will lead to developing a more resilient and thriving African aviation ecosystem that will benefit the entire value chain.”

Marcel Langeslag, Director Aviation Africa at NACO, concluded: “Focusing on non-passenger revenues such as commercial real estate, can make a substantial difference to the profitability and investment appeal of an airport; so, I expect this unique event, coinciding with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, will take off successfully in 2023 and fly in the years ahead!”

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