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Other Articles Last modified on October 5, 2017

View from the top

Regional director, Patti Chau, reflects on a host of issues ranging from airport networks to industry efforts to make passenger processing more efficient.

The 2017 inductees into the ACI Director General’s Roll of Excellence have been announced, and I am proud to say that the list of airports recognised for delivering outstanding customer service for a number of years in ACI’s annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) surveys includes China’s Tianjin Binhai International Airport.

It is particularly pleasing to see another Chinese airport awarded such a prestigious status as continuous growth in China’s aviation market over the past decade has created an exciting new market that has led to a lot of new challenges for the nation’s airports.

China Civil Aviation Development Forum

I visited China in May to attend the 2017 China Civil Aviation Development Forum – a high-level communication platform for global aviation leaders and key stakeholders organised by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) – where I took the opportunity to share ACI’s view on the ‘economics and benefits of airport networks’.

My global overview highlighted the economic importance of airports and the key role they play in the transportation of people and goods; the challenges faced by the smaller gateways in an airport network; and the different management models employed by States.

States look to their airport system to create value, through GDP growth and jobs creation. Some opt for single-airport operators to manage these functions, while others have designated more than one airport operator to manage a network of airports composed of large, medium and regional airports.

Airport companies that manage multiple airports within a network benefit from economies of scale and scope, especially in relation to overhead costs, and in many respects are efficiently run businesses with competitive aviation charges.

Airport networks also typically find it easier to access capital markets, which in turn translates into lower costs compared to single airports.

While many States choose to preserve the network approach – whether publicly or privately operated – for reasons of safety, socio-economic considerations, efficiency and/or as a matter of integrated transport policy.

Indeed, very often operating airports as a network remains the only possible way to keep small airports viable and serve their respective communities.

At the end of the day, airports are wealth generators for a number of different stakeholders in the air transport value chain, and their socio-economic impact and multiplier effect extend to the broader economy.

As a result, everyone needs to do their bit to ensure these benefits continue long into the future, including, of course, ICAO through the adoption of appropriate policies.

ICAO TRIP Regional Seminar

ACI’s co-operation and close working relationship with ICAO was demonstrated again in July when we were invited to attend the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (TRIP) Regional Seminar in Hong Kong.

Jointly organised by ICAO and the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD), the event addressed the five elements of ICAO’s TRIP Strategy, namely:

  • Machine readable travel document (MRTD) standards
  • Specifications and best practices
  • Secure travel document issuance
  • Robust evidence of identity processes

Information sharing technologies highly relevant to the execution of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2178 (2014) and 2309 (2016) on combatting foreign terrorist fighters, with a special focus on effective border control management.

We were invited to give our view on TRIP, as were fellow industry trade bodies, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) among others, and regulators such as CAAC and CAD.

We believe that passenger processing will need to change dramatically in the near future to cope with the projected growth in air traffic.

One way that this is likely to be achieved is through optimising the use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments to enhance our traveller identification capabilities to better facilitate the movement of passengers through airport terminals.

The scenario is expected to lead to governments, airports, airlines and their contractors and suppliers adopting most or all of automated border controls called for in the ICAO TRIP Strategy.

In this regard, ACI applauds ICAO for taking leadership in establishing standards in electronic passports and developing a strategy to help State authorities authenticate travel documents in a world that is increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks.

Global aviation leaders

At the recent 54th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Region in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, highlighted the capacity constraints faced by airports and the growing trend of airport networks during a presentation entitled ‘Asia-Pacific at the crossroads: Breaking Barriers and Navigating the Future’.

Fellow panellists in the session – moderated by ICAO’s Secretary General, Dr Fang Liu, – were Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the ICAO Council; Michael Huerta, Administrator of the US Federal Aviation Administration; Bambang Susantono, vice president of knowledge management and sustainable development for the Asian Development Bank; and Aireen Omar, CEO of AirAsia.

World Business Partners

ACI Asia-Pacific is proud to be the only ACI region to currently organise an annual WBP Airport Tour.

Exclusively available for WBP members in the region, the tour aims to provide a mutually beneficial opportunity for WBPs to meet face-to-face with senior airport executives from host airports.

The meetings allow WBPs to gain a better understanding of the respective airport’s development plans/upcoming projects and give airports the opportunity to learn more about the latest industry trends, business solutions and technology news from the WBPs.

This year’s WBP Airport Tour will visit three of the leading airports in the region, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou international airports.

Looking to 2018

Last, but not least, I would like to invite you to mark the dates of next year’s Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition in your diaries. The event, kindly hosted by Narita International Airport Corporation, will be held  in Narita, Japan, on April 23-25, 2018.

I hope you can join us for one of the most important events in our region!

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