Sheikh Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni, CEO of Oman Airports Management Company, stands as one whose tenure as ACI World Chair has been nothing short of transformative. In this candid conversation, we sat down with Sheikh Aimen at Airports Innovate to explore his journey and achievements during his tenure.
When I first joined the ACI World Governing Board (WGB), I faced the task, along with the ACI World Executive Committee, of hiring the new ACI World Director General. It involved a lot of hard work and energy to find the top talent to lead ACI World. I am genuinely proud to say that we selected one of the best aviation leaders in the world. Since Luis Felipe de Oliveira came on board, he instigated a significant change—I would even say, a revolution. I take pride in the fact that we brought in a person who led this change. I remember during the interviews; all Board members were looking for someone to bring positive disruption. He not only met this expectation but exceeded it. Transformative leadership is essential for addressing the evolving challenges and opportunities in the ever-changing skies of the aviation industry.
The second achievement was fighting COVID-19 and managing recovery. When the pandemic started, we all within the ACI WGB adopted a holistic perspective on the aviation sector, seeking solutions to protect, and support airports—fighting for the entire industry during the pandemic. I believe we did it well.
One notable milestone was the introduction of the ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) program, which has now transitioned to the ACI Passenger Health and Safety Readiness program, now helping airports with their long-term sustainable planning. The idea for AHA came from ACI World management; we supported it, and it literally went viral. Airports started massively applying for accreditation. This response showed us how much the ACI brand had strengthened and how much airports wanted to convey and ensure passengers that the airport experience is safe and healthy.
The post-COVID-19 recovery was also quite intense. I remember that we had spoken for long hours, debating whether the recovery would take the U-shape. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. We must admit, it was challenging. Like many industries, airports had to lay off staff, and when the pandemic wave receded, they simply did not have personnel to bring back.
At Oman Airports, we tackled this issue differently. Recognizing that we had more staff than operations required, we offered a voluntary three-month leave with half salary. The choice was theirs to make, and many people took it. This reduced our costs, and when their presence was needed again, they returned. Through this approach, we built the most important – trust.
The ACI WGB has guided ACI to focus on innovation. Technology and innovation are what bring our industry forward. Embracing new technologies is not merely an option but a strategic imperative for airports to stay ahead of the curve. With this in mind, we transformed the intention into the inaugural Airports Innovate event, hosted by Oman Airports. We had planned to create a reputable event for airport innovation, highlighting the importance of innovation in supporting and optimizing airport infrastructure without the need for physical expansion.
I pushed for this event to be held and I am sure it will become a world-scale one in the years to come. The best speakers and technology companies are already here, and the next event will see giants, such as from the AI industry.
To be honest, the decision ACI took to become the first global aviation organization to declare a net zero goal by 2050 in June 2021 was tough. It is not just a number on a piece of paper, it will require tremendous work with several milestones on the way.
With all regions, we began approaching this goal backwards. Of course, some regions are moving faster than others, but we are literally working non-stop to encourage progress. As we speak now, the work is being made and discussions are being held, such as ACI’s engagement at COP28, including the ATAG Global Sustainable Aviation Forum.
I am honored to represent my country, the Sultanate of Oman, on the international stage. I firmly believe that ACI plays a crucial role in shaping the future of aviation. The decisions we make have a profound impact on the aviation sector. It is a significant place for the Sultanate to be and it is indeed a proud moment for me to serve as the Chair and represent Asia-Pacific and Middle East and my beloved country, Oman.
I am very grateful for the years with the ACI World Governing Board, in and out of the pandemic. I will still be around, handing this role to the amazing Ms. Candace McGraw. ACI World is fortunate to have her. With her legal background, she consistently provides impeccable advice. She actively listens to the industry.
Do not miss the first interview of Candace McGraw, new ACI World Governing Board Chair, coming in January 2024
When asked what guidance I could relay to Candace as she takes over the role, I suggest a sensitivity to diverse regional needs, making visits to the ACI World office, having meetings with our industry counterparts, such as ICAO and IATA, and of course, consistently prioritizing innovation, sustainability, and ESG.
One thing is certain, there is a lot of work ahead for airports, but we are building greater resiliency and collaboration. The aviation industry is really back, aircrafts are being ordered, and new airports are being built. Let’s leverage the power of ideas and knowledge-sharing, it will bring us so much benefit and potential.
ACI World extends heartfelt gratitude to Sheikh Aimen bin Ahmed Al Hosni for his remarkable tenure as ACI World Chair. We appreciate Sheikh Aimen’s unwavering dedication and visionary leadership, which have significantly contributed to steering the organization and the airport industry towards innovation and excellence. Thank you, Sheikh Aimen, for your invaluable contributions.