Most long-term airport leases of this nature would be for 40-to-50 years.
“Many of the world’s best airports are already managed by private companies under similar arrangements, including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, Athens, Lima, Copenhagen, Paris, Rome, and Sydney,” said Robert Poole, author of the report and director of transportation at Reason Foundation. “The long-term lease would be a public-private partnership that would completely protect Hawaii’s taxpayers and air travelers by setting specific customer service and performance benchmarks that must be met by the private partner.
It would also lay out specific maintenance, upgrades, and other investments the company would have to make throughout the lease.”
In July 2021, an unsolicited $17 billion offer to buy Sydney International Airport, Australia’s largest airport, was made by a group of infrastructure investors.
Despite the airport’s traffic still being a fraction of its pre-COVID-19 levels, the offer was 26 times the standard multiple of Sydney’s pre-pandemic cash flow.
The Reason Foundation study used a 20-times multiple in its “high” value calculations for U.S. airports like Honolulu and Kahului.
The news from Australia suggests that infrastructure investors value airports for their long-term prospects, and Hawaii could likely get the high-end values estimated in the Reason study, or perhaps even more.
The Reason Foundation study analyzed 31 large and medium U.S. airports, finding that Los Angeles International could be worth $17.8 billion, San Francisco International and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport could each be worth more than $11 billion, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport could be worth more than $10 billion.