SPARA 2020

Smart Peripheral and Remote Airports (SPARA2020) was a Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme project designed to address the challenges facing remote & peripheral airports. These airports are economically vital, providing accessibility & connectivity to residents; but with low traffic volume, strong seasonality challenges and ageing aircrafts, these airports suffer relatively higher costs of operating safely & compliantly and inevitably require state subsidy or intervention. SPARA’s main focus was to improve the level of innovation at public service airports to increase self-sufficiency and resilience long-term. The project aimed to do this by facilitating an innovation cycle, with topics including:

  • Innovative technologies to improve airport performance
  • Sustainable energy use to reduce carbon footprint
  • Best practice of cost-saving initiatives and efficiency improvements
  • The social, cultural and economic importance of remote airports to communities and businesses
  • Explore non-aeronautical uses of an airport to diversify income and improve passenger experience
  • An innovation network to spread best practice and facilitate knowledge transfer

The Project focused on

Innovative Technologies to improve airport performance and control cost

Sustainable Energy Use to reduce carbon footprint

Maximise Non Aeronautical activity to diversify income

Socio Cultural role of airports in programme area

Transnational Airport Performance Benchmarking

Refined Methodology for estimating Economic Impact of Smaller Airports

The Northern Periphery & Artic Programme 2014-2020

The SPARA 2020 project was part funded by the The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 Programme. This Programme forms a cooperation between 9 programme partner countries; the Member States of Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom (Scotland and Northern Ireland) in cooperation with the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Norway. This means that the programme area encompasses the Euro-Arctic zone, parts of the Atlantic zone and parts of the Barents region, neighbouring on Canada in the West and Russia in the East.

Despite geographical differences, the large programme area shares a number of common features, such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change. This unique combination of features results in joint challenges and joint opportunities that can best be overcome and realised by transnational cooperation.

The Northern Periphery and Arctic 2014-2020 Programme is part of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective in the framework of the cohesion policy, supported by the European Regional Development Fund. The programme operates in a multi-layered policy landscape, making it well positioned to contribute to and align with the Europe 2020 Strategy, national and regional policies and development strategies, macro regional and sea basin strategies, and other programmes covering parts of the geographical area. In addition, increased interest and rapid developments in Arctic regions have resulted in a more explicit recognition of the programme’s Arctic dimension in regional development.

3 Year €2.4m Project

Designed to Facilitate an Innovation Cycle


*   Sustainable Peripheral Aviation Network (SPAN) to spread best practice

*   Innovative Technology to improve performance

*   Maximise Non Aeronautical activity to diversify income

*   Sustainable Energy Use to reduce carbon footprint


Best of breed methodologies for evaluation of peripheral airports

Project Partners