By now, most of you will be aware that I am stepping down as regional director of ACI Asia-Pacific in December after eight years in the role. So, in my last message to you, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome my successor, reflect on my time with ACI, and deliver my final report about the advocacy efforts of the Regional Office.
All change in 2020
Having undertaken a global talent search over the summer, I am pleased to announce that the Regional Board recently confirmed the appointment of Stefano Baronci as my successor.
Stefano has been the director of economics at ACI World since 2016 where he led a strong focus on strategy and advocacy campaigns for airport economics and related issues, among other endeavours.
I am sure Stefano will share his vision for the future of ACI Asia-Pacific in upcoming communications, so stay tuned!
Going down memory lane, I’m not sure how many of you are aware that the ACI Pacific Regional Office relocated from Vancouver to Hong Kong back in 2004, which then merged with ACI Asia to form ACI Asia-Pacific in 2006.
I still remember the early days when we only had three staff. Now we have grown to 16 strong, serving and advocating on issues pertinent to the diverse membership of our region.
I’ve personally been with ACI Asia-Pacific and lived in Hong Kong for the last 15 years. While I am excited to return to my hometown to reunite with family, my departure will be bitter-sweet as my experience at ACI has been both fruitful and rewarding, especially with the lasting friendships forged along the way.
It is truly an honour to have served ACI and I hope my peers will concur that Stefano will inherit a Regional Office with strong foundations to go from strength to strength to best serve our members.
ACI World Governing Board (WGB)
This year’s second WGB Meeting was held on October 20 in Bogotá, Colombia, preceding the ACI Latin America and Caribbean’s Annual Assembly, Conference and Exhibition.
Given that the meeting was held towards the end of the year, it was fitting for each ACI region to deliver an early re-cap of the myriad of activities, events, and advocacy work that transpired this year.
From my perspective, what stands out in our region is the rapid growth of air traffic, which continues to add pressure on airport infrastructure. Many airports are operating at near, or beyond their design capacities.
To support the vibrant growth trajectory and fulfil anticipated demands in the long run, both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are continuing to actively invest in airport infrastructure.
Other macro issues tabled at the WGB meeting included our region’s engagement with governments and regulators on economic matters, particularly on the issues of taxation, airport charges, and slot allocation.
At the Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation of Asia and Pacific (DGCA56) meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, in August, ACI submitted a number of papers that included a joint paper with IATA drawing attention to the proliferation of various taxes and duties as a growing concern. The paper urged the industry to engage with policymakers to identify ways to establish appropriate analyses on the cost and benefits of taxation to ensure that states maximise the economic benefits of aviation.
Regional Executive Committee and Board Meetings
A week after Bogotá, I flew to Muscat, Oman, for the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board meeting on October 29, where topping the agenda was, of course, Stefano’s formal appointment as the new director general.
In other business, given the recent storm of activities in connection with the climate crisis that made headline news worldwide, one key piece of advocacy work we continue to focus on is the engagement of regulators and industry players to promote airport environmental sustainability.
I am proud to report that as of October, 55 Asia-Pacific and Middle East airports are accredited under the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, including six airports at Level 3+, Neutrality.
Our job, however, is never done, and we must also bear in mind the importance of water management. A few months ago, the World Resources Institute warned in an alarming report that almost a quarter of the world’s population, many living in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, would be facing serious shortages in the supply of fresh water.
As a result, the 2020 focus of our ACI Asia-Pacific Green Airports Recognition programme is water management, and we have subsequently issued a call for papers to member airports to share best practices in water management and the prevention of water pollution.
Past and future events
After Muscat, I travelled to Doha to attend The Trinity Forum, which brought together the crucial triumvirate of airports, concessionaires and brands. Event hosts, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Duty Free and Qatar Airways are, of course, stalwart innovators in the industry, and we had a great conference deliberating on a variety of topics, including finding a physical solution to the digital challenge.
Next up in 2019 is Airport Exchange in Abu Dhabi on November 25-27. Jointly organised by ACI Europe and ACI Asia-Pacific, the event will be hosted by Abu Dhabi Airports and is one of ACI’s biggest annual trade shows, drawing hundreds of top executives, delegates, exhibitors, and expert airport speakers from all over the world.
Looking towards 2020, two more important events are on the horizon in the first part of the year – the 12th ACI Annual Airport Economics & Finance Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 25-26 and the 15th ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly, Conference & Exhibition in Nara, Japan, on April 21-23. More information on these events will be furnished in due course.
Before I sign off for the last time, I wish to once again thank the Board for their guidance and unfailing support throughout the years. And, lastly, I must also convey my heartfelt thanks to all our team at ACI Asia-Pacific for their hard work and professional execution of their duties.