What’s it like managing the world’s busiest airport?


By Robin Boyd, Airport Real Estate Manager, HJAIA

As a real estate manager at the world’s busiest airport, I’m a member of a very small club – there are only about 75 of us nationwide. It is said that aviation gets in your blood and I believe it, because airplanes are cool.  And being up close to them on a day-to-day basis is even cooler!

Leasing and property management at the airport crosses over several different real estate fields – office, retail, hospitality, industrial, and specialized spaces (ramps for aircraft parking, hangars, fuel farm tanks, deicing facilities, etc). In some ways, it is easier than in traditional real estate, since the FAA requires rental rates to be uniform and there are no “quantity discount” negotiations.

On the other hand, security and aircraft safety are paramount, so most decisions and courses of action must be vetted with other departments prior to execution.  A few examples:

  • Each tenant must pass security scrutiny before occupying space;
  • there are height restrictions for equipment used at the airport; and
  • trash receptacles have to be strictly maintained to prevent foreign objects from blowing into aircraft engines or onto runways.

And construction is a beast in and of itself – the planning phase takes years, not months; all plans must be approved by the FAA; and all contractor employees must pass rigid background screenings, which can prove challenging. Industrial buildings that typically cost $50-$60 per square foot to build cost $150 or more per square foot to build at the airport.

Yet airport property management still deals with clogged toilets, too hot/too cold calls, parking disputes and most other typical day-to-day challenges that fall on the successful property manager.

It is very exciting real estate work at the airport, and I’m happy to say that a lot of women work in the property’s departments and as managers for construction projects. So whether on the airport or the airline side, I highly recommend a career in property management.


Robin Boyd is a Southerner at heart, a proud graduate of the University of Alabama, and is fulfilling her dream of living and working in Atlanta.  As a Real Estate Manager for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, Robin brings over 20 years of real estate experience with a strong emphasis on financial management.  She is an active member of the Airport Council International Cargo Committee and enjoys volunteering for her alma mater and community organizations such as the Red Cross, Food Banks and Habitat for Humanity.


Aerial photo of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on March 5, 2010 on approach and showing F concourse under construction by Craig Butz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons, adapted for this blog

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