Message from the Director General

Angela Gittens by Angela Gittens | Dec 2, 2019

2019 was a very productive year for ACI. We raised the bar in representing airport interests with governments and international organizations, developing policies and recommended practices for airports, as well as in providing guidance, training, business intelligence, and subject matter mentoring. In 2019, ACI proudly served 646 members operating 1,960 airports in 176 countries around the globe.

The year kicked-off with a significant milestone, as ACI delivered the 100th Airports Excellence (APEX) in Safety Review in Abu Dhabi. The programme continues to promote the best safety practices in airport operations, utilizing the expertise and cooperation of the community of airports.

Going from strength to strength, airports in all regions continued to demonstrate their commitment to customer experience excellence as represented by the feedback from passengers responding to the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) survey.

In response to the desires of programme participants, ACI developed the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation programme which offers a common definition and framework for customer experience management. The programme helps airports to progress through the five levels of accreditation by assessing and improving their approach to customer experience management.

On the critical issue of airport capacity, industry collaboration brought a new era for the airport slot allocation regimen. ACI, along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Worldwide Airport Coordinators Group announced the agreement of a new governance structure for the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines that puts the interests of the travelling public at the center. Airport operators, airlines, and slot coordinators will now play an equal role in determining the global guidelines for the allocation of airport slots. We look forward to achieving the potential to optimize the use of airport infrastructure, promote competition, and contribute to the sustainable social and economic vitality of local and national communities. 

ACI continued to publish guidance material for its members and stakeholders including new guidance for airports to address the insider threat, posed by staff members exploiting their positions of trust to do harm. ACI also published new guidance on airport business continuity management to help airport operators maintain the flow of passengers and goods in the event of disruption.

As autumn began, ACI relaunched its transformative airport Smart Security programme, which aims to improve passenger and cabin baggage screening, identifying solutions that can be introduced in the short term while exploring a future vision for the security regimen.

Similarly bringing technological innovation to the heart of aviation, ACI progressed its New Experience Travel Technologies (NEXTT) initiative, along with IATA. NEXTT provides a vision for the future of travel which pulls together the work that is being done in our security, airport operations, passenger and cargo facilitation teams, on biometrics, autonomous vehicles, and digital transformation. It seeks to ensure that stakeholders have a common direction, and that all projects benefit to maximize interoperability with others. 

ACI diligently pursued its advocacy work at the international level. In consultation with the ACI World Standing Committees and in coordination with the Regional offices ACI submitted Working Papers at the ICAO 40th Triennial Assembly and achieved concrete results in the areas of taxation, security, cybersecurity, facilitation, unauthorized unmanned aircraft system operations, and environment.

Indeed, environment took center stage throughout 2019. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, challenged us all to be a larger part of the solution in combatting climate change. Both ACI World and ACI Europe passed Resolutions earlier this year committing to do more. While our European airport community has formally pledged to become net zero for carbon emissions under its control by 2050, the ACI World Governing Board has agreed to a far-reaching worldwide study on a long-term carbon goal for airport operators. The study will include considerations of net zero carbon airports by 2050, and most importantly, the possible pathways to achieve these goals. 

These selected achievements and much more will be highlighted throughout the 2019 ACI Annual Report, set for release in spring 2020.

We are deeply grateful to our members who lend us the time and talent of their subject matter experts and to the ACI World Board that provides wise strategic direction and leadership in the interests of the airports and the communities they serve.

We look forward to another productive year as we work towards a safe, secure, customer-centric, and sustainable future.

Angela Gittens

Angela Gittens

Director General, ACI World
Angela Gittens began her tenure as Director General of ACI World in 2008. She was formerly airport CEO for Miami and Atlanta and Deputy at San Francisco International Airport. In other roles, Gittens led HNTB Corporation’s airport business and strategic planning practice and, at TBI Airport Management, she oversaw the transition to private ownership of London Luton Airport and managed operations contracts at several airports in the US and Canada. She is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and has served on numerous aviation industry boards and committees.
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