Airport operators have become important innovation leaders

Guest Author by Guest Author | Feb 26, 2019

Written by Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization

In the lead-up to her keynote address at the 2019 ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly, Conference & Exhibition, Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization shares her thoughts on the important challenges the industry now faces in areas such as urban connectivity and inter-modality, airline economics and competition, and the responsible ownership and operation of drones.

2019 marks the 75th anniversary of ICAO, and of the countries of the world sharing their skies to their mutual benefit through the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

While it’s important to recognize the historical relevance of the Convention, and all that it has helped humanity to accomplish in terms of global peace, economic growth, and sustainable development wherever people fly, at ICAO today we’re also very strongly focused on the new and truly incredible aircraft and air operations which are revolutionizing how we conceive of, and realize, the future of flight.

As the international standards setter for global aviation, ICAO understands that it must adapt its processes and governance to encourage and accelerate the many air transport innovations now coming to light. As we seek to proactively engage the many new actors and innovators in air transport, and enhance the responsiveness of our work to support their new technologies and operations, the fundamental need to progress all of these developments on a consensus-driven, harmonized global basis remains paramount.

Safety and security remains the priority

No matter if an aircraft is taking off and landing from a traditional airport, the roof of a skyscraper, or even your neighbour’s driveway, our fundamental goal remains that it will do so safely, securely and efficiently. And the same holds true no matter if it may be for personal or commercial use, or whether its operations are piloted, remotely piloted, or autonomous.


Airport operators have also become important innovation leaders in recent years, whether through the adoption of renewable energy sources to green their operations, or the realization of quieter and more environmentally efficient local operations through the adoption of the latest air traffic management technologies and procedures.

Airport operators have also become important innovation leaders in recent years, whether through the adoption of renewable energy sources to green their operations, or the realization of quieter and more environmentally efficient local operations through the adoption of the latest air traffic management technologies and procedures.

In the coming years airports will also be looked upon as key partners to help government border control and security providers to take advantage of the latest passenger screening, information sharing, and digital identity developments, integrating related new technologies into the airport facility itself and mitigating the time-consuming bottlenecks of current checkpoints.

Infrastructure investment is critical

This reminds us that investments in new airport and aviation infrastructure  will be nothing short of critical to how we keep our sector vital, efficient, and fully responsive to the needs and expectations of today’s travelers, businesses, and societies in the years ahead.


As the united voice of the world airport operators, ICAO values ACI’s important perspectives on all of these developments, not to mention many other important challenges we now face in areas such as urban connectivity and inter-modality, airline economics and competition, and the responsible ownership and operation of drones.

I look forward to its continued effectiveness and partnership as we move forward with States and other industry stakeholders to jointly assure the continued safety, security and efficiency of civil aviation, and am certain of our shared success if we continue to set a course for the future of aviation together.


Portrait of ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu

Prior to her appointment as Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Liu served for eight years as the Director of ICAO’s Administration and Services. During her tenure, she contributed extensively to ICAO’s Senior Management Group and also participated in the High-Level Committee on Management within the United Nations common system.

Over the course of the preceding twenty years, Dr. Liu served the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), where she held the posts of Legal Counsel, Deputy Director, Director and Deputy Director General, International Affairs and Cooperation. She was responsible for China’s international air transport policy and regulations, bilateral and multilateral relations with external organizations including ICAO, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, European Union, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Dr. Liu was also chief negotiator for the Chinese government for bilateral and multilateral air transport agreements with foreign countries.

Dr. Liu earned a PhD in international law at Wuhan University, China, and a Master’s degree in air and space law at Leiden University, the Netherlands. She was the Director of the Association of Air Law of China and of the Association of Private International Law of China.


The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

Guest Author
133 articles
Share This