After decades of standstill in both strategic and competitive practices within industry borders, the airport business has recently shown proof of new proactive, marketing-driven approaches towards the market. The role of airports has been evolving, from a mono-modal to a multimodal hub approach, to the "multipoint firm" concept. This kind of enterprise seems, in its best practices, capable of serving various demand clusters with an array of different value propositions: attractions for tourists and aviation enthusiasts, congressional and logistic facilities, shopping venues and consulting services appear the most relevant ones. This paper investigates the evolving profile of airports towards the "airport as a firm" concept. This goal has been achieved through the implementation of more complex forms of service packages in order to satisfy evolving needs of enriched audiences, rather than identifying with the traditional audience, air passengers and air transport employees only. The paper highlights examples of "best practice" in the European airport industry. The Italian airport industry and its late evolution towards the "airport-as-a-firm" approach is given particular attention throughout the paper. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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