Airport City Academy

5 – 6 December 2019, Vienna

Join the academy

Learn how to develop and modernise airport cities.



What is the Airport City Academy?

Airport City Academy is an intensive, two-day course that equips decision makers with the tools they need to develop successful airport real estate projects. The integrated course curriculum combines rigorous in-class training modules with site visits to airport city developments. This unique mix of theory and practice offers participants an in-depth understanding of each step of the development process and empowers them to apply classroom learning to real-world case studies ranging from small regional airports to global mega-hubs.

ACA is led by Dr. Max Hirsh and Pieter van der Horst (MRE MRICS), two leading airport city experts with complementary backgrounds in real estate, market research, and urban development. Guest speakers by planners and developers from Europe, North America, and the Middle East highlight the “big picture” issues that fundamentally determine the success or failure of any airport city.

What Will You Learn?

Airport City Academy combines in-class training modules with on-the-ground site visits to successful airport city developments. In addition, small-group working sessions empower participants to identify their own airport city’s unique strengths and site-specific advantages, and brainstorm future growth strategies that build on those strengths. Over the course of two days, participants will learn how to

  • develop site-specific growth strategies that leverage the airport’s USP
  • drive the project forward through the six stages of development
  • determine which development model is right for their airport
  • build productive relationships between the airport and key partners in the public and private sector
  • generate enthusiasm for the project in the local community
  • attract developers and investors
  • manage landside properties profitably and efficiently

Learn from the Experts

Airport City Academy is led by experts who have extensive experience with full-cycle airport city project development. With complementary backgrounds in real estate, market research, and urban development, our instructors provide a global view of leading-edge development strategies that have been successfully implemented in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Max Hirsh

Professor @ University of Hong Kong

Max Hirsh (PhD, Harvard) is a Professor at the University of Hong Kong and CEO of Urban Experts. A leading expert on airports and urban development, his research and consultancy services focus on landside real estate, airport area development, passenger behavior, and customer-technology interaction. Max is the developer of Airport Urbanism, a new, people-focused approach to airport design.

Pieter van der Horst (MSc MRE MRICS)

Managing Director @ AIREA

Pieter van der Horst (MSc MRE MRICS) is Managing Director of AIREA and an expert in airport real estate development and non-aviation revenue. Pieter’s professional career has included stints as Chief Commercial Officer of IKIA Airport City and at Schiphol Real Estate, where he led the landside commercial development of Schiphol’s airport city.

Guest Speakers

Arja Lukin

Project Director @ Airport City Aviapolis

Ms. Arja Lukin (M.Sc. Archit) is a Project Director of the Airport City Aviapolis, situated next to the Helsinki Airport, which is Europe´s northern hub for flights to Asia. Aviapolis is the most rapidly growing business hub in Finland and will evolve as an attractive, livable and diverse city – true city, true polis next to busy airport. Arja´s main responsibilities are vision, brand and project lead of the public-private-development.

Geoff Herdman

Director of Real Estate & Investment Attraction @ Edmonton International Airport

Geoff Herdman (MBA, Durham) is Director of Real Estate & Investment Attraction at Edmonton International Airport. Geoff has led real estate deals leading to more than $900 million of private investment at EIA and resulting in the creation of more than 4,000 new jobs. In his 20-year career, Geoff has headed teams in real estate development, leasing, market research, consumer insights and capital strategy.

Alan Thompson

Design Director @ Benoy

With over 30 years design experience, Alan has been responsible for the commercial masterplanning on a number of prestigious retail and leisure schemes, mixed-use developments and transportation projects worldwide. Passionate about creating schemes that are people friendly, Alan looks to connect public spaces with the commercial offer to provide a memorable and engaging sense of place.
Collaborating with clients, stake-holders, re-searchers and local architects/engineers on projects, Alan establishes commercial strategies including retail masterplanning, commercial districting, spatial future-proofing, programme mix, customer flow analysis, demographic needs and placemaking.

René Marey (M.Sc, Delft)

Senior Airport Architect and Airport City Planner @ NACO

René Marey ( M.Sc, Delft ) is Senior Airport Architect and Airport City Planner at NACO, Netherlands Airport Consultants. As lead designer of the Airport Cities group he has been responsible for a number of airport city projects ranging from Western Sydney Aerotropolis to Lusaka Airport City. René master planned airport cities in Eindhoven and Rotterdam airports at the beginning of his 24 year career and has a strong focus on commercial viability and strategies for implementation.

Juan Marcos Rodriguez Diaz

Senior Urban Planner @ AECOM Spain

Juan Marcos Rodriguez Diaz (M. Arch) is an urban planner at AECOM with broad experience on diverse and complex urban contexts around airports. Marcos has a deep understanding of the design development process at various scales and phases. He manages and coordinates interfaces, towards the creation of high-quality design, resulting in successful urban environments with added value for the various airport stakeholders.
He is currently involved in airside and landside projects. As part of multi-disciplinary teams, he is delivering vision, strategic planning and project lead as part of AECOM’s design signature approach.

Course Schedule

Course Introduction

Module 1. Key Drivers of Airport-Led Urban Development

Module 2. Getting the Deal Done: The Six Stages of Project Development


Module 3. Choosing the Right Development Model: Insights from the Real Estate Industry

Working Session 1. What’s Your USP? Finding Opportunities for Future Development

Drinks Reception at NH Hotel Vienna Airport – sponsored by AECOM

Team Building Dinner at Stadtwirt, central Vienna – sponsored by Benoy

Recap of Day 1

Module 4. Study Tour: Airport City Development in Action


Module 5. Thinking Ahead: Future Innovations & Disruptions

Working Session 2. Now What? Planning the Next Steps

Course Recap & Closing Discussion


In 2019, Airport City Academy will take place at Vienna International Airport (VIE). Participants will have the opportunity to visit VIE’s newly expanded AirportCity, which is just a short train ride from downtown Vienna.

Vienna International Airport (VIE)


Vienna International Airport (VIE)



The Hotel NH Vienna Airport is a very short walk from the airport where the Airport City Academy will be held and will be the headquarters hotel for the event.
Aviation Media are delighted to confirm MICE Concierge Ltd as our trusted official accommodation and concierge service for the event.  MICE Concierge will be providing an enhanced service for all attendees to help ensure you are well looked after whilst you’re in Vienna.
We have secured a number of rooms at the hotel at a great rate.  We advise you to book through the official channel as the service is supported by the event; you will get the best rates and by staying in the accredited hotel you will be with other delegates and will therefore be able to network/socialise more to get the most out of the event.
To book your room, please click this link:
Alternatively, if you would like to reach out to MICE Concierge Ltd directly, please email Tony Brinsden on and he will be happy to assist.
Hotel NH Vienna Airport
Hotel NH Vienna Airport

The NH Vienna Airport Conference Center hotel, formerly known as NH Wien Airport, enjoys a convenient location just across from the arrivals hall at Vienna Airport.

Who Should Apply?

Airport City Academy is designed for senior managers and future leaders working at airport authorities, and for developers and urban planners involved in the development of airport areas. The compact course format is tailored to the career needs of busy professionals who are eager to deepen their knowledge and expand their skill set in a short time.



Apply by 15 November 2019.

The course fee includes all course materials (syllabus, workbook, and post-course documentation). It also includes refreshments (lunch, coffee breaks, reception) and local transportation for the airport city study tour.

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