The planning of an airport is such a complex process that the analysis of one activity without regard to the effect on other activities will not provide acceptable solutions. An airport encompasses a wide range of activities which have different and often conflicting requirements. Yet they are interdependent so that a single activity may limit the capacity of the entire complex. In the past airport master plans were developed on the basis of local aviation needs. In more recent times these plans have been integrated into an airport system plan which assessed not only the needs at a specific airport site but also the overall needs of the system of airports which service an area, region, state, or country. If future airport planning efforts are to be successful, they must be founded on guidelines established on the basis of comprehensive airport system and master plans.
The elements of a large airport, It is divided into two major components, the airside and the landside. The aircraft gates at the terminal buildings form the division between the two components. Within the system, the characteristics of the vehicles, both ground and air, have a large influence on planning. The passenger and shipper of goods are interested primarily in the overall doorto-door travel time and not just the duration of the air journey. For this reason access to airports is an essential consideration in planning.
The problems resulting from the incorporation of airport operations into the web of metropolitan life are complex. In the early days of air transport, airports were located at a distance from the city, where inexpensive land and a limited number of obstructions permitted flexibility in airport operations.