Message from the Director General

Angela Gittens by Angela Gittens | Oct 10, 2019

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 40th Triennial Assembly concluded on Friday afternoon, 4 October, after two hectic weeks. I’m pleased to report on the progress ACI has made in representing our members’ interests worldwide as we work towards a safe, secure, customer centric, economically and environmentally sustainable future for airports and aviation at large.

Every three years ICAO brings together over 2,000 delegates from up to 193 countries and international observer organizations to review the work of the past triennium and to set the policy agenda for the next. It elects a new 36-member Council, the permanent governing body of ICAO, and agrees its budget for the coming three years.

The 2019 Assembly was held at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada from the 24 September to 4 October. This was an important period for engagement with ICAO as ACI worked directly with the ICAO Secretariat and the national regulators attending the Assembly to promote key areas.

In consultation with the ACI World Standing Committees and in coordination with the Regional offices ACI submitted several Working Papers (WP) and achieved concrete results including:

  • Taxation. Responding to the ACI WP, the Assembly re-affirmed the fundamental difference between user charges and taxes; acknowledged the risks associated with poorly designed and/or excessive taxation; and, recognized the importance of running a cost-benefit analysis before introducing any form of taxation.
  • Security. ACI had highlighted innovations such as Smart Security, and the Assembly expressed broad support for fostering innovation in aviation security and called on Member States to coordinate with industry partners to facilitate operational trials of new technologies and innovative techniques. It also adopted an updated Declaration on Aviation Security, for which ACI was invited to be part of the small drafting group.
  • Cybersecurity. With ACI support, the Assembly adopted a Resolution on cybersecurity, to address the issues through a horizontal, cross-cutting and functional approach; reaffirming the importance and urgency of protecting civil aviation’s critical infrastructure systems and data against cyber threats. The Resolution also sought to obtain global commitment to action by ICAO, its Member States and industry stakeholders, with a view to collaboratively and systematically addressing cybersecurity in civil aviation and mitigating the associated threats and risks.
  • Facilitation. ACI also welcomed a new Resolution which called upon Member States to: implement technological solutions aimed at enhancing security and facilitation of border controls while improving clearance procedures, such as the joint use of Automated Border Control gates and the ICAO Public Key Directory when checking e-Passports.
  • Unauthorized UAS Operations (Joint paper with CANSO, IATA, IFATCA and IFALPA). The industry is ready to work with ICAO in drafting the required international guidance material. This work would build upon existing Standards and guidance, and the work of ICAO technical bodies, as well as evolving State guidance and regulations. The outcome would include harmonized processes for initiating detection of, and counter measures against, unauthorized UAS that may interfere with international aviation.
  • Management of Noise. Responding to a joint ACI-CANSO WP, the Assembly agreed on the relevance of Community Engagement in the Balanced Approach, but concluded that it was not necessary to formally recognize it as an element of the Balanced Approach. However, it referred to proposed new text of the revised Assembly Resolution which highlights Community Engagement; this is a very satisfactory outcome for ACI.  
  • Supersonic Aircraft were discussed with the US accepting that further work should be taken forward in the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection. Several States explicitly supported the ACI perspective that the introduction of supersonics should not have an impact on community noise exposure and that they should be certified to standards comparable to the best performing sub-sonic aircraft. 

It was evident from the recurring themes from the Assembly itself, that change is coming faster than ever before. It was also evident that the member States of ICAO see industry as an important partner and that there is an appetite for engagement that goes beyond that seen hitherto. As we seek to embrace innovation and change, ACI’s pledge is that we will draw on practical experience from experts around the world to help develop pragmatic regulatory frameworks.

We offer our support and engagement at every step of the way, so that these regulatory frameworks will reflect the needs of the industry.

I also congratulate both the re-elected and the newly-elected ICAO Council members and look forward to providing them with briefings on the airport industry and specific topics pertinent to the sector. Only by getting to know each other better can we work together towards our common goals.

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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