It was a busy and productive season for ACI World, but I’m pleased to report that we close the year with many positive outcomes for our members, the travelling public, and the aviation ecosystem as a whole. We had a series of successful events, strengthened key collaborations, and released timely products and services to help airports be the very best that they can be.
As Director General of ACI World, part of my duty is to represent the voice of airports at events in every corner of the world and what I notice is that the desire to travel is growing. Despite the challenges airports face, people in all regions want to travel and are excited by the air travel experience that begins at the airport. In fact, the latest ASQ 2022 Global Traveller Survey we recently released reveals the highest intention to travel since beginning of the pandemic.
Our responsibility is to help airports anticipate and evolve in step with industry and passenger needs. I hope you’ll agree that ACI World continues to live up to its twin mission and remain relevant in a quickly changing environment. We set measurable goals, deliver concrete actions, and raise the bar for our future work, while increasing social and economic benefits to the communities we serve.
Indeed, travellers are at the heart of everything we do as a sector, and the month of September began with the ACI Customer Experience Global Summit—our annual event dedicated to airport experience. This year we gathered in Krakow, Poland under the theme “Re/humanizing the airport experience,” which recognized the need to find the right machine to human balance.
We thank Radosław Włoszek, President of the Board of Krakow Airport and Polish Government Representatives Mr. Andrzej Adamczyk, Minister of Infrastructure, and Mr. Marcin Horała, Secretary of State, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy. In addition, we thank keynote Steven Van Belleghem – a global thought leader and international best-selling author – for his memorable and insightful speech on customer centricity, and all the speakers from all over the world for their contribution in making the Krakow edition a memorable one.
At the Gala Dinner, we celebrated the winners of the ASQ Awards – perhaps one of my favourite celebrations of the year. From the data collected in 2021 from over 370,000 surveys, 110 awards were given to 87 individual airports around the world. We continued our partnership with global travel technology company Amadeus to deliver the ASQ Awards as well as for the ACI-Amadeus Technology Innovation Awards (covered in the WAGA 2022 section). Partnerships are key to the future development of airports and the support that Amadeus brings to the ASQ Awards clearly shows the importance of our ongoing collaboration in improving the passenger experience.
At the Summit, we also announced the new level 5 of the Customer Experience Accreditation program and Incheon International Airport’s achievement in being the first airport to level up to it. The program continues to grow with over 60 accredited airports.
Another highlight of the ACI Customer Experience Global Summit was the launch of the new Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation program. Up to 20% of the world’s population has a certain kind of disability including visible and nonvisible, and elderly passenger with reduced mobility such as the elderly. Airports need to be ready to increase the offer for this important sector of society—it is simply the right thing to do.
As such, ACI and our industry partners are making accessibility a priority in different ways from advocacy to guidance. The new Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation program provides our members with an initiation into the path of continuous accessibility improvement at airports. We are pleased to have received input from accessibility advocacy groups as we work towards the common goal of improving air travel accessibility. We also thank the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for their support of the program. Our partnership and commitments with ICAO are crucial to addressing global issues with the support and commitment from governments.
From the Summit we jumped right into ICAO’s 41st Assembly, an event that happens every three years. ICAO’s Assembly establishes worldwide policy and guides governments’ continuing and future work in civil aviation and attracted more than 2,500 delegates, including ministers, directors general of civil aviation, and senior policy and decision makers. I’m thrilled to share that ACI World’s advocacy on behalf of airports, under the #All4one Aviation Ecosystem campaign was overwhelmingly successful.
As you may have heard, the entire aviation community welcomed an agreement by governments to a long-term aspirational goal of net zero carbon emissions for international aviation by 2050. This is in line with the Paris Agreement and the industry’s own climate goal. We applaud this milestone and underline that the ACI World Governing Board asked us in 2019 to make this a priority for action, to convince our industry partners of the importance of this goal, and to encourage ICAO to take it forward – all actions we have delivered on. However, this agreement doesn’t stop there. We now need regulators to support airports’ work to make this a reality and we will continue to be advocating for this. As I always say, we are stronger together!
Other key wins include the agreement on the need to review existing policies on airport charges; strengthening aviation’s workforce; the adoption of the first ICAO Resolution on accessibility of air transport; as well as an amendment to the ICAO Resolution on wildlife trafficking to better combat the global issue. We thank our subject matter experts, especially those in the Committees, guided by our global membership through the World Governing Board, for their work on these issues. Our successes are the result of many years of dedication, and I am very proud of the great work delivered by our team.
ACI World’s reception at OASIS immersion – the largest immersive exhibit in Canada – was the ideal way to end the ICAO Assembly’s social gatherings. Delegates had the chance to hear from Deputy Minister at the Ministry of International Relations and La Francophonie of the Government of Quebec Sylvie Barcelo; and Palais des congrès de Montréal Vice-President Finance and Administration Christian Ruel. Thank you to OASIS immersion, Palais des congrès de Montréal, and Montréal-Trudeau International Airport for helping to deliver a memorable event in such a unique location.
Building on the successes from the ICAO Assembly, the ACI World Annual General Assembly approved key resolutions to strengthen and promote the sustainability and resilience of airports as essential players in the aviation ecosystem. These Resolutions will help airports deliver the long-term net zero carbon goal; restore economic equilibrium; support small, emerging, and regional airports; and, build aviation’s workforce. Our members provided a strong collective response to, and a commitment to act on, the pressing issues presented in the Resolutions.
I would like to highlight the Resolution on Delivering the Long-Term Aspirational Goal, which acknowledges the challenges that face airports and governments in achieving their goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Resolution calls on governments to support the transitioning of the global electrical grid, update the regulatory framework to accommodate the integration of alternative fuel sources at airports, and incentivize infrastructure development with appropriate financial mechanisms. This will be a priority advocacy area in the new year and beyond.
I’ll take a moment here to thank our trusted World Governing Board (WGB), led by Chair Sheik Aimen Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports and Vice-Chair Candace McGraw, CEO of CVG Airport, for their ongoing dedication and guidance. The 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 program of activities, policy statements and participation in the work of other world bodies, among other duties.
The World Governing Board Meeting and Assembly took place at the ACI Africa / World Annual General Assembly, Conference, and Exhibition (WAGA) in Marrakech, Morocco at the end of October, under the theme: “Sky’s the limit: Discovering opportunities within change.” The most important global gathering of airport leaders brought together over 500 CEOs, senior executives, government representatives, and industry partners from all over the world. This year’s edition was hosted by Morrocco’s Office National Des Aéroports (ONDA), especially Ms Habiba Laklalesh (CEO ONDA) who graciously welcomed us. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to reconnect in Africa, a region that holds great potential for air travel growth, with 18% of the global population but with only 2.5% of global passenger traffic.
I extend our appreciation to the Minister of Transport and Logistics of Morocco Mohammed Abdeljalil; Director General of ONDA Habiba Laklalech; ACI Africa President Emanuel Chaves; ACI Africa Secretary General Ali Tounsi; and, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company and ACI World Chair Aimen Sheik Aimen Al Hosni for their support of and participation in the event. In addition, a special thank you to Dr. Hassan Sahidi, President of Flight Safety and Adefunke Adeyemia, Secretary General of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) for their inspiring keynotes.
At the Gala Dinner, ACI World and Amadeus announced the winners of the Technology Innovation Awards, which put a spotlight on the best technology initiatives and leadership by airports. Technology is a key ingredient to building a stronger, sustainable, and more resilient aviation industry. It will also be crucial to continue our overall mission to put the customer at the centre of everything we do.
From our survey and following the great success of the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) program in helping airports align their health and safety measures on a global scale during the pandemic, ACI introduced the next evolution of the program: the Public Health & Safety Readiness Accreditation program. The new accreditation provides airports with an assessment that evaluates how aligned their public health and safety measures are with ACI guidance, industry best practices, and recommendations from the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).
Being the leaders that they are, iGA Istanbul Airport collaborated with ACI World for this initiative and was announced as the first airport in the world to be accredited under the new program. We welcome all airports to leverage this program so they can continue to prioritize the wellbeing of travellers and staff in case of future public health events.
I mentioned at the beginning that this season was key for the strengthening of partnerships, and this couldn’t be better exemplified than with the success of the Masterclass on Financing Airports for Sustainable Future conducted by ACI World and the World Bank. The event took place in Amsterdam on 1 November, just one day prior to the Global Airport Development Conference. We thank The World Bank Lead Air Transport Specialist Charles Schlumberger for his ongoing partnership and hope to build on the fruits of our labor.
Occurring at the same time as the GAD Masterclass was the revival of The Trinity Forum (hosted this year by Changi Airport), a longstanding event focused on airports’ commercial activities and held in partnership with The Moodie Davitt Report and ACI Asia-Pacific. I was delighted to provide the State of the Industry Address, as well as to participate on other panels along with ACI World Senior VP of Programmes and Commercial Services Antoine Rostworowski. Developing airport’s non-aeronautical revenue has always been key to diversifying airports’ portfolio but its importance has increased significantly in the post-pandemic environment.
While these are the key highlights of our activities, they are by no means the only. ACI World representatives participated in numerous events both within and beyond the industry, our Standing Committees and staff continued to develop existing and new services including relevant guidance material, and many bilaterals took place to advance partnerships that will bring this industry forward. As we come out of the pandemic and recover fully, we find ourselves in a different place, where expectations and priorities have changed but where travellers and communities remain the guiding principle of our ongoing work. I look forward to reporting in the new year.