The Economy the Airport Operates in


Hi everyone!

Long time forum stalker, first time forum poster here - Have been really interested in ACEO for quite a while now and actively following the forum discussions. Now I have done a search, albeit a reasonably high-level one and I’ve not come across an answer or question similar to mine, so I do apologise if it’s already been raised!

My question relates to the environment in which our Airports operate in. This includes both the geographic environment, but also the economic environment. Now as far as I understand it, our airports have a concept of geography, that being they exist in a ‘world’ where flights will arrive and depart and have a concept of distance etc. There is also the concept of companies who provide services to our airports and airlines/general aviation who frequent our airport as well as passengers who use it to use their airlines etc.

Taking this a step further, we can understand that physical location can play a part in the success of an airport. Take New York City for example. New York has 3 main airports, why is this? One reason is its geographic proximity to a number of things which make good economic sense to have an airport (or in this case, three). Some of them include; being on the East Coast, so available to service Trans-Atlantic flights and being next to one of the economic powerhouses of the USA, that being New York City. If New York wasn’t as successful as it is, or wasn’t in the location that it is, it wouldn’t have the airports that it does.

My second point is an economic model. Currently (at least in New Zealand) there is a travel boom. Aviation fuel prices are low, competition is increasing and people have a propensity to spend, all of this means the price of flights is coming down and more people are travelling - meaning Airports, and operators are seeing increases in profitability and demand on their networks and infrastructure. However, this is not always the case. Take the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), or even 9/11, where in both events (for different reasons) we saw a massive decline in the demand for air travel. This not only has an impact on airlines and services, but on the airports that people use to access them. Imagine an airport that has recently undergone a huge upgrade, only to have an economic downturn mean no airlines are requesting the new gates that have just been completed…

This actually brings me to my question (and I apologise for taking so long to get there), but, is there any concept of an economy that our airports operate in? My worry/concern/thinking is, is the game simply a case of “Build it and they will come”? If I have a runway and some gates will airlines just fly to my airport because its there? Will passengers just drive down the road which is connected to my airport and take the plane to wherever because its there? Is there/will there be any concept of destination demand? ie: If my airport is located and only has contracts with airlines who only services say ‘backwater’ destinations, like for example former USSR baltic cities/towns will i see decreased demand for services?

I know this is possibly a little too deep, but I see the detail which has gone into modelling things like the baggage system and I’m thinking that if we’ve gone into that sort of detail with baggage, we should/could have a conversation about the wider world in which our fictional airports operate in?

Promise further posts wont be quite so arduous. And shout-out from NZ :smile:


Hi there FlyingKiwi, welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

The devs have said the following (which all skirt around your actual question):


I like the idea, but for a truly custom world i’d like the option separate from location. Maybe there could be two ways of selecting location, one is you pick it on the map and the other is a slider based method where you can choose options like the climate, the economic stability of the area, etc etc.


I agree with you, although both could be combined, allowing you to see the values of climate, etc, while you select a location on the map.
Having a checkbox ‘Finetune’ or something, would allow you to adjust the sliders on the chosen location.


I’ve seen theis accomplished with varying degrees of success in other games (not necessarily a direct comparison)

Cities Skylines does a great job of giving you information about the nature of the map you are going to be building your city on, giving you indications of the different external connections, resource amounts and available land to build on. Users can deduce based on these factors, how easy or hard their game will be as having fewer resources, fewer connection opportunities and less land to work with all make for a harder game.

I think it was Airport Tycoon 3 had the concept of building you airport either 1) really close to a city, 2) a little bit away from a city, or 3) quite far from a city, and picking each one of these three options had a direct influence on a number of factors in game, like the cost of purchasing land and buildings, but also the amount of demand from passengers and airlines etc. I’m hazy but there might have also been talk of restrictions etc the closer you were to the city. I also remember you could pick the city you were nearby to, these cities had populations which again had a direct relationship to the demand for air travel.

Factorio also gives players significant control in how their map is seeded, which can make games much easier, but also much more difficult. You can influence the richness of resource deposits, and how many exist on the map, you can determine whether the aliens (your enemy in the game) are infact peaceful or whether they will attack you on site. Opting for peaceful aliens essentially turns the game into a sandbox as the main challenge (that being getting attacked) is removed.

Ideally (and as mentioned above), ACEO would give CEO’s the option to determine how easy or difficult our games are, based on factors which the game can either make more or less challenging, for example;

  • Cost modifier (make buildings etc more/less expensive
  • Income modifier (make contracts/fees more/less lucrative)
  • Weather modifier (make weather more/less variable/extreme)
  • Airline modifier (airlines are more fussy about your services you provide, more demanding etc)
  • Economic modifier (economic fluctuations more pronounced, common etc)

If the game werent to opt for a series of discreet controls like above, there could simply be game ‘modes’ which would include a bunch of modifiers like above to make an ‘easy’, ‘medium’ or ‘hard’ game and it would identify what was making it ‘easy’, ‘medium’ or ‘hard’.


Another Kiwi on the forum!! I’m liking the idea, I would dthink finely like the bush extra depth this would bring


Thanks @pderuiter, I thought the same when I checked out the existing threads. After watching a number of playthrough videos from Sim Airport (waits for lightning bolt…) to me its clear the overall simulation lacks anything resembling an economic model. It is, by and large a paint by numbers game - so long as you have a runway, a gate and the requisite facilities inside the airport, airlines will request contracts. Full schedule? Just add another gate/runway etc - very formulaic once you figure out how to ‘beat the game’.

This is real opportunity for ACEO to differentiate itself from its competitors (i should say one of the ways, it is already differentiated in a number of areas when it comes to simulation complexity) for the better. Such a model shouldnt be viewed as a burden to new players, or people with less experience playing sim games, but as an opportunity to create a game which provides varying degrees of difficulty so that no two games are different when you play through.


I like these factors you presented in which it defines the difficulty of the game. But I think you missing out on maybe another import one.

Political involvement. Nothing is restricting company growth more than then getting permits. Being closer to cities will make it harder to fly at night because of noise pollution. So more freight flight have to been cut or moved to more expensive daytime flights/take offs. Expansion of the airport will be harder to get PERMITS on(Not sure if permits have been discussed before), which would result in longer waiting times before you can expand. Permits would be involved with more environmental rules/obligations, like noise reduction and CO2 reduction.

More examples could be made, but I think political involvement is a point to look into.


Certain ones will just restrict the elements of the game you can play with, for example no night flights won’t add a challenge, it’ll just mean you get several hours of no revenue and no ability to expand. If it’s done cleverly for example the government increases night flight taxes etc then it could work, but needs to be balanced with being fun.


@Patje89 absolutely agree! There is not a single airport in the world which is not influenced by the politics of that, or other countries. Your examples of night flights and permits etc is exactly what I would think as well.

Something harder to possibly quantify into code might be a political ‘direction’. For example here in NZ, our largest airport in Auckland is only served by road and bus and is congested and literally bursting at the seams. Now it’s quite clear to anyone with a brain that the answer to this is heavy rail, but the government’s response has been to stall and opt for costly motorway upgrades to add more lanes and talk about extra bus services, a very short term view skewed by what is potentially a level of preference given to the big/powerful roading contractors.

I realise that’s probably next to impossible to put into code, but it’d be an interesting element if the game could almost ‘oppose’ certain perfectly legitimate options, like transport choices, or # of runways or even airlines and # of passengers etc


Very interesting, i suppose this would bring that ‘extra’ level of detail into the game and truly simulate running an airport.



Thank you for a long and good read. To answer your questions: Yes. What you are describing is very detailed and can, in regards to the depth of that detailing, be quite complex to render. We’ve just this week replaced the old map and inserted a new solution allowing you to choose whatever place you want in the world, which was seen in the recent gameplay video, and this of course allows you to render these kinds of mechanisms that you describe. However, we need a lot of extra data to properly simulate it and I think that we at this stage are not ready for this.

When I sleep, I dream of an Airport CEO that, when you choose a position in the world to construct your airport, you get presented with a game world that resembles the biome of the position you selected. All of the routes and the franchises are logically generated with your position in mind, the weather is adapted to the world coordinates and the economics and legislations match the country you are situated in. If we get enough funding, we can absolutely try and achieve this, from a technology perspective it is absolutely possible but it will require a lot of time and thus we can’t include it in the initial releases.

Thank you again for a good read!

Geographic location affects climates/season?

Hey @Olof, thanks for your reply!

Really glad to hear that so much of this is being/ has been considered in advance of this thread. Agree that much of it is truly complex to put into code. I think the whole community are pretty happy with the model that exists as it stands right now and that you guys have struck a really good balance between realism and tycoonism.

I’m looking forward to seeing the simulation grow along with the game as we progress through early access and with each new update for the game.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply


Please keep politics out of this game, pretty please


it was a fantastic article. thanks for sharing full of amazing and surprising fact. i found some related information in this website

طراحی سایت


I don’t know much about programming so I can only imagine the complexity of what my fellow ACEO enthusiasts describe above.

Maybe the whole “economic depth” issue could be more airport centered as everything already exists by the developers, instead of introducing something completely new as the area where the airport is built etc.

What I mean with that is to focus on how the airport makes its’ income. Get it working and it opens a whole new world by adding depth and play hours. And it also binds the operations part, that the apoapsis guys got it absolutely right, with the economics of the game.

So the basic income in ACEO is made through income contracts (because there are expenditure contracts like with the contractors for example). Be it with airlines, shops, food stores and perhaps I forget some now.

So it might be a good idea to use some factors (or variables) that affect the value and the volume of those contracts!

A list of variables could be:

  • Flight delays

  • Time spent by customers on queues (for check-in, security control, claiming their luggage, waiting for the bus etc). There might be ways that do not make the game heavy/laggy. For example do not take the individual passenger info but get the size of the queue (one measurement instead of many). It might be silly what I propose but I use logic not knowledge!

  • Fuel prices

  • Walking distances between gates, public transportation, baggage reclaim areas etc.

  • Cleanliness of airport in general (count the stains and how long they stay on)

  • How long before a broke item is repaired

And many-many more that the apoapsis guys I’m sure can think of.

Once the variables are decided then their individual weight should be decided and then their effect on the value or volume of the contract should be implemented.

Also important to include in the UI a notice that “your contracts are negatively affected” or something else that you can think of.

Sorry about the long message.