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 Javier Marin, Aena’s Executive Board Member & Managing Director – Airports, and ACI EUROPE’s President.
Javier is responsible for the Spanish airports network and those airports that Aena manages abroad through its subsidiary, Aena International. He has held a number of management positions since joining Aena in 1991 including Managing Director – Air Navigation Services and Director of Corporate Development. Prior to joining Aena, he worked for the Universidad Politécnica of Madrid, the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority, the Paris-based Eurocontrol Experimental Centre and Indra.
He has been member of the Boards of Directors of different aeronautical infrastructure companies, and he is currently, also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aeroportos do Nordeste do Brasil S.A (ANB).
Since I remember, I have always been attracted to flying and everything related to it such as aircraft, airports, air navigation, or space. Therefore, I didn’t have any doubt about what I wanted to become as a professional, which was an aeronautical engineer. Then, I saw that I had a wide range of options in my hands, but the one that really attracted me was the air transport sector. And I have to say that I am happy with my decision.
When I look at the evolution of my career, I am really satisfied to see how my trajectory has allowed me to learn and experience many relevant areas, such as air navigation, the management of international airports in countries as relevant as the United Kingdom, Brazil, Colombia or México, or the day-to-day operation of a network of 46 airports in Spain that range from hub to regional airports, and that welcome both tourist and business travellers.
A few weeks ago I would have naturally said that the main challenge for our region is to be able to consolidate traffic recovery with harmonized regulation in the current COVID-19 environment. We still must face the financial implications caused by the severe reduction of traffic that has taken place, and in this sense, we need to control costs and foster the return of passengers and airlines to our airports. Today, unfortunately, the main issue for all European airports is the war in Ukraine and its consequences, starting with the humanitarian impact of this devastating conflict.
Naturally, in the face of this conflict, other issues seem to be minor in comparison but, nevertheless, they will also represent challenges to our airports. I am thinking on Brexit and the need to make it compatible with regulations such as the Entry-Exit system, that will be in place in the near future in Europe. This is especially relevant for tourist airports, since they must face a seasonal operation with high peaks of traffic that require them to answer to these challenges very efficiently.
Also, sustainability is something that must be at the core of all our decisions in the short- and long-term, and in this sense, the legislative package that the European Union is working on will be a real challenge, but a necessary one to ensure that we achieve the expected results to safeguard connectivity and the competitiveness of our industry.
As an opportunity, I see the pent-up demand that has been waiting to return for months, and that I hope that is not affected by the current circumstances.
I would like to continue the work of the Board to promote traffic recovery through a dialogue with governments and institutions to foster a coherent and coordinated set of rules.
Sustainability will also be very high on the agenda, and it is vital that we continue working on the decarbonization of the airport sector. As mentioned before, Europe is especially active in this area, and it can share experiences with other regions.
Finally, among other things, it is important to reinforce the airport role in the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines through the recently created Worldwide Airport Slot Board. It has been instrumental in addressing the challenges that COVID-19 generated and will have a significant function in the years to come.
In 2018, Aena launched its Climate Change Strategy and during 2020, the objectives derived from the first phase were achieved. This performance was recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which for two consecutive years has awarded the highest rating to Aena.
Aiming to go further, in March 2021, Aena approved its Climate Action Plan which will allow our company to become climate neutral in 2026 and Net Zero in 2040. The plan implies an investment of close to 550 million euros in the period 2021–2030. Aena is the first Spanish listed company and one of the few in the world to submit its Climate Action Plan to a vote at its General Shareholder’s meeting. The plan includes annual objectives and determines the programs, lines of action, and projects to be carried out. I will be very happy to share our challenges and experiences with my fellow airports to be able to work together.
Regarding economic sustainability, we have been implementing incentive schemes to foster traffic growth as much as possible. During these extremely difficult circumstances, this initiative, together with a tight cost control, has allowed Aena to minimize the impact of the pandemic and facilitate the connectivity of the regions it serves. In this sense, and bearing in mind that 80% of the tourists that visit Spain use our airports as a gateway to their destinations, our role has also been essential as an economic driver for our country.
Finally, and on the social aspect of your question, I would like to mention our Social Corporate Responsibility initiatives. Among them was an initiative that took place last year to support the Island of La Palma when the volcano there erupted. Aena and its staff played a key role in keeping the airport open and also launched a donation campaign that was extremely appreciated by the citizens and authorities of the island. I am very proud of how we, as an organization, and all the workers that form part of it, reacted and proved once again the value we offer to society, especially in the case of islands.
The ACI World 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.
It 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 program of activities, policy statements and participation in the work of other world bodies, among other duties.