As ACI World publishes its 2020 Annual Report, recounting the work of the organization in supporting its members during the COVID-19 pandemic, ACI World Governing Board Chair Martin Eurnekian reflects on the challenges faced by airports, the work ACI has done to support and assist through these times, and the road ahead for recovery.
This year will go down as the most challenging in the history of our industry, bringing with it record lows in global air traffic and huge impacts on our operations and our lives. In response to the profound effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had, world governments continue to introduce measures and, while these actions have been created with the intention of protecting and providing for their citizens, the impact they are having on our industry is unique and unmatched.
We are a strong and collaborative community, however, and our strength is in our people. The monumental challenge of the pandemic has forced us all to respond and to adapt quickly to demonstrate to our passengers, staff, and partners that a safe, secure, and hygienic experience is our priority.
I thank all of you for the important work that you have done and that you continue to do in support of the global effort on COVID-19. Whether it be providing solutions in matters of humanitarian relief, facilitating the continuing essential operations, or assisting in the essential movement of medicines and crucial vaccines by keeping cargo moving across the world, this is critically important work.
I am proud of the way that we have come together to work with our global partners, stakeholders, and governments to navigate through the current crisis and to lay the foundation for our recovery, which we hope will come sooner rather than later. Since the start of the crisis, together with every region, we have pursued a global dialogue to help ensure that the voice of the airport industry is heard as governments devised policy responses.
ACI’s voice remains crucial on the pressing issues facing the industry.
Throughout the pandemic, whether it be calling for government assistance and support, urging flexibility in slot rules, improving flexibility in the measurement and delivery of quality of service, or creating programmes like the Airport Health Accreditation programme, we have strived to deliver for our members. Now, we hope that the improved proliferation and distribution of vaccines provides much cause of optimism for recovery.
As we prepare for the return of air travel around the world, there is an opportunity to think strategically and take a systematic approach to understand, evaluate and adapt to meet changing expectations of travellers in a way that encourages people to fly again.
ACI research shows that people will want to travel again soon but the extent to which COVID-19 will leave a lasting legacy is far from clear. The new normal for travel will bring many changes, which in turn will require us to continue to be flexible and adaptable. Now is the opportunity for airports to listen to their passengers to better understand their needs in order to redesign the end-to-end passenger journey and better prepare for the future. The pandemic could provide an accelerator that will enable our industry to make the necessary changes to move forward, taking heed of the lessons learned and building on the collective capacity to change and adapt that we have shown.
We know that recovery will be a long road, with each region of the world facing challenges unique to the local conditions, but this is not the first time that the aviation industry has been profoundly impacted by ground-breaking events.
The world is changing fast and, while the pandemic’s impact on the industry has been far greater than what we have previously experienced, we can meet the challenges of this crisis together and recover together. This is the moment for our industry to build on the cooperation and collaboration we have shown so far and work together as true partners because airports cannot do it alone – we are all in this together.
Together, airports, airlines, government agencies, and other partners in the aviation ecosystem can reach solutions that will help us all in this interconnected and interdependent industry. Let us grasp our chance to reshape the way we do things and seize the opportunity to reconnecting the world.