Meet the ACI World Governing Board: Howard Eng

Sabrina Guerrieri by Sabrina Guerrieri | Aug 20, 2019

Over the course of the year, readers of ACI Insights will have the opportunity to meet each ACI World Governing Board (WGB) member. This article features Mr. Howard Eng, President and Chief Executive Officer of Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).

Mr. Eng has been President and CEO of the GTAA since 2012 and under his leadership, Toronto Pearson is pursuing its vision of becoming the best airport in the world. Toronto Pearson’s collective efforts were acknowledged in both 2017 and 2018 when it was voted by passengers as the Best Large Airport in North America (serving more than 40 million passengers) by ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Programme. Also in 2018, Toronto Pearson was recognized by ACI as the Most Improved Airport in North America.

What word describes you the best?

Prepared. Forecasts indicate significant growth and some changes in what passengers want and need. I don’t want my airport, or more broadly, the industry as a whole, to let down the passengers or businesses that count on us to be reliable and responsive.

What do you see as ACI’s primary role in the modern airport industry?

Being a unifying voice, lobbying for resolution or advancement on issues of mutual interest regardless of country/region. Aviation is a global industry like few others and many challenges we face are shared regardless of where the airport is located.

What would you like to accomplish during your term on the ACI World Governing Board?

I hope to continue to collaborate and work together with some of the most forward thinking and strategic minds in the aviation industry. Our industry is constantly facing risks, both global and local in nature. In the foreseeable future, we will likely be working through challenges surrounding protectionism, trade wars, policy changes, changing governments, economic challenges, fuel prices and changing passenger demographics, to name a just a few. It is imperative that we work together as an industry to face these challenges and weather the storms together so that we can continue to be competitive, consistent, and reliable. 

What are some of the innovations happening at your airport and how is it benefiting airport stakeholders in a tangible way?

In the past year, our innovative focus has been in areas of passenger flow with a focus on passengers requiring special accessibility, planning to handle a doubling of baggage volume and launching a new website that allows passengers to use the airport before they even set foot on our property.

We are constantly evaluating our operations, infrastructure and processes to find ways to improve. On our journey to become a mega hub airport, it is crucial that we are always investing to improve every part of our airport to be able to serve the nearly 50 million passengers that pass through our gates every year.

Innovation is an important journey for every business, especially airports. It is a journey that you are on continually; not a destination that you can reach. It is crucial that we are always striving to be better, more efficient and looking for ways to improve processes and experiences for our passengers. 

At Toronto Pearson, we have an Innovation Fund, which has an annual allocation of one per cent of our net income. This fund is being used for an array of collaborative research projects, pilots, and testing of new systems and processes. 

Airports are often described as generators of socio-economic benefits to communities, States and regions at large. How does your airport engage with and serve its surrounding community (e.g., initiatives)?

Toronto Pearson is Canada’s front door and an important economic enabler for our region, and a neighbor to the communities that surround us. We thrive and grow together with these communities and we have a responsibility to connect with them, to understand their issues and concerns and to help them out. 

For the communities around us, we are more than just an airport.  We are their neighbour. We partner with organizations that are doing meaningful work in the areas of environmental sustainability, community vitality, community-building activities, accessibility enhancements, and education. 

We also make a concerted effort to build relationships with our surrounding communities, engaging with community members at events that we sponsor and attend.  We want to get to know the members of our surrounding communities, so we can better understand their concerns and questions. We go out into the communities, to places like libraries and community centers, to engage with local organizations and elected officials and build solid relationships. We will have 65 community touch points just this summer at local events and festivals. 

We also use our signature community investment program – the Propeller Project – to champion on-the-ground solutions to underemployment in our communities by directly investing in local organizations that foster talent and connect people to the right opportunities. 

Our key commitments under the Propeller Project are to:

  • Give back to neighborhoods directly and indirectly impacted by our operations
  • Invest one per cent of our net income annually in community building initiatives 
  • Foster growth and prosperity in our regions, communities and among local residents

What would you like to see come out of the upcoming ICAO Assembly?

I would like to see ACI World’s engagement with ICAO continue to focus on issues affecting the aviation industry, especially those critical to airports. 

For example, we must keep the environment at the forefront and make aggressive strides towards further CO2 emission reductions. 

It is also crucial that the industry works together to address the challenges that come along with aviation growth, such as facilitation of passengers and baggage, as well as capacity challenges.

Extended Biography:

Prior to joining the GTAA, Mr. Eng was Executive Director, Airport Operations at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). During his 17-year tenure as a member of the senior management team, HKIA became one of the world’s largest international hubs and won more than 40 Best Airport awards.

Mr. Eng has held positions on various Boards of Directors, including ACI North America and Canadian Airports Council (Chairman). He currently sits on the ACI WGB in addition to being a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Mr. Eng graduated from the University of Alberta. He began his career with Transport Canada and later worked as Vice President of Operations at Edmonton International Airport.

In October 2018, Mr. Eng was awarded the Excellence in Visionary Leadership award from ACI North America. The award, given annually, recognizes the North American airport executive who best brings a vision to life while leading excellence in each functional area of a 21st century commercial airport.

The ACI WGB consists of 28 representatives nominated by the regional ACI Boards, plus the Immediate Past Chair of the Board. The number of regional representatives is calculated based on each region’s share of passenger and cargo traffic.

The ACI WGB meets twice a year for strategic discussions on key subjects for airport operators that reflect the concerns and interests of ACI members. They also determine ACI’s worldwide policies, report to the General Assembly, approve the budget, worldwide programme of activities, policy statements and participation in the work of other world bodies, among other duties.

Sabrina Guerrieri

Sabrina Guerrieri

Manager, Communications, ACI World
Sabrina Guerrieri is ACI World's Communications Manager with over 7 years of aviation experience working in corporate and B2B communications. Skilled in writing and editing, promoting and protecting brand reputation, project management, stakeholder engagement and alignment, integrated and data-driven campaigns.
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