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 Sam B. Samaddar, Airport Director for the Kelowna International Airport, and ACI North America’s Chair.
In 1988 he commenced his airport career at Vancouver International Airport where he held several positions including Airport Duty Manager and Superintendent of Ground Transportation. In 1992 he assumed the position of Superintendent Airport Operations at Kelowna International Airport and has held numerous positions, including Assistant General Manager jobs for both Airport Operations and Airport Development while achieving his International Accredited Airport Executive designation in 1997.
In July 2008 Sam was appointed the Airport Director for the Kelowna International Airport – one of the top ten airports in Canada serving just over 2 million passengers in 2019. As Airport Director, Sam currently is also a board member of Tourism Kelowna.
I fell in love with aviation at an early age. I was two months old when I took my first flight from London to Nairobi on BOAC and received my first logbook and wings. When I was little I would ask my grandfather to take me to the Airport in Kisumu, a city on Lake Victoria in Kenya, to watch aircraft and would spend my free time building model planes.
At the age of 12 I joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, learning more about aviation and achieving my pilot’s license when I was 17.
Following University and time with External Affairs, I was drawn back to airports and started my career in Vancouver before moving to Kelowna. Now I have been at Kelowna International Airport for 30 years, every day I love coming into work and I am still as fascinated by aircraft as I was when I would watch take-offs and landings with my grandfather as a child.
I believe following the COVID-19 pandemic, we all will face new customer expectations. One of our biggest challenges will be to manage these customer expectations in a very confusing and ever-changing environment. Throughout the passenger journey, travellers will encounter different standards and expectations for each airport they travel through.
This brings with it an exciting opportunity to look at innovation to match those customers’ expectations and manage airport operations in a more unique way by using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning. We are currently exploring different ways we can do this and piloting different systems that will improve the customer experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the current recovery has presented us with a changing environment, and the challenges and opportunities that it brings. As a board we need to examine the customers’ journey from their home to their destination, and then home again. I am looking forward to working with the ACI board to explore how we can establish a seamless experience for our passengers. This will require collaboration with our world partners to ensure that the standards being set are done so through the lens of the customer experience. I will be working with our government bodies to advocate for standard regulations in all airports.
When we look at the safety management system of an airport, we have to include the social, environmental, and economic components as being equally important to the airports ecosystem.
From an environmental sustainability perspective, we have designed our air terminal building expansion project with the latest in social and environmental designs. This includes the use of mass timber in the design of the structure. It was developed to utilize and promote British Columbia and develop innovative approaches in the use of regional building materials.
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.