VIEW FROM THE TOP
Director general, Stefano Baronci, reflects on how ACI Asia-Pacific has stepped up its efforts to support its airport members and World Business Partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whisper it softly, but with the global roll out of COVID-19 vaccines gathering pace, there are finally reasons to believe that the end of the pandemic could be in sight, and that by the second half of the year, aviation could start to look to the future again with renewed optimism.
There is no disputing that 2020 was the toughest year ever for the world’s airports, and while we were all glad to leave it behind us, we have taken the time to compile our annual Year in Review publication documenting our efforts in support of the region’s airports in the face of a global pandemic. The publication is available on our website.
You can be assured that the ACI Asia-Pacific team remains focused on understanding the continually evolving situation around the region and developing relevant positions to support advocacy work for our members.
REGIONAL BOARD MEETING
We have just concluded the 16th ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly, which due to the current travel restrictions, was once again held in a virtual format. It is, sadly, a scenario we have all become very used to over the last 12 months, but was nonetheless very productive.
I am pleased to announce that the leaders of Airport International Group (Jordan); Taoyuan International Airport Corporation Ltd (Chinese Taipei); Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (Malaysia); Airports Corporation of Vietnam (Vietnam); and Delhi International Airport Ltd (India) have come onboard as new Board Directors.
We are delighted to welcome them and have such knowledgeable leaders on our Regional Board and look forward to their insights in shaping the recovery and activities of our association.
We also welcome new members Albury Airport in Australia; Papa Rererangi i Puketapu Limited – the operator of New Plymouth Airport in New Zealand – and Dammam Airports Company in Saudi Arabia as new members. Their addition means that we now have a total of 120 members operating 606 airports in 49 countries and territories.
WORLD BUSINESS PARTNERS
These are clearly difficult days for airports and our World Business Partner (WBP) community, yet they continue to innovate and develop new solutions, such as touchless technology, that will help ensure the industry’s recovery from the pandemic and future growth.
The ‘Perspectives’ series on our website has provided a new platform for our World Business Partners to gain more exposure for their companies and share some industry insights with us.
In April we are launching a new series of virtual events that will give airport members, World Business Partners and industry stakeholders an opportunity to interact with one another in the absence of traditional industry conferences and in-person events, most of which have been cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic and ongoing travel challenges.
@ACIAPAC Online is a new virtual event series filled with conversation and interaction with ACI Asia-Pacific leaders and industry stakeholders. In each session, we will focus on a different topic and hear rich insights from voices that matter in our airport sector and the ecosystem it serves.
As you will be able to read more about in the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Update on page 12, we are pleased to have started 2021 by welcoming several new WBPs (Cirium, Materna IPS, The Moodie Davitt Report Asia and Smart Airport System). Welcome to the ACI community!
TESTING, QUARANTINE AND VACCINATIONS
A recent survey, the third conducted by the COVID-19 Task Force, revealed interesting insights for the prospects to international travel. Following the outbreak of new variants of the virus, 70% of the 33 airport operators surveyed in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East said that testing and quarantine measures were tightened.
Almost 80% of airports surveyed now require testing both on departure and arrival. To support this discussion, we issued a position paper, available on our website, on COVID-testing.
While the start of wide-scale COVID-19 vaccinations is a first step in the path to recovery, it would be unrealistic to wait until the global population is vaccinated before allowing the industry to resume operations. Hence, tests will continue to play an important role. The position paper outlines critical considerations for a new testing programme.
Not covered in the position paper, yet on everybody’s mind, is whether the combination of vaccines with testing can remove quarantine requirements.
The survey showed that 85% of airports now require quarantine for all passengers. We will table this discussion in the coming weeks.
The position paper also addresses passenger health identification. Multiple parties both inside and outside the industry are working on travel and health testing passes. With a number of initiatives underway, we are supportive of any system that will allow testing and vaccination data to be shared consistently, effectively and in a way that protects the personal data of those using it.
Noting the diversity of our region, we continue to raise the point that interoperability between the solutions is key to avoiding further confusion for the travelling public.
The position paper is being used to engage policymakers at regional and national level to ensure airports’ perspectives are taken into consideration in the development of policies pertaining to testing and health certification for international travel. We invite members to make use of the position paper in consultations with national authorities.
We have conducted more than twenty webinars with members to refocus and customise our advocacy efforts depending on national needs.
Despite the gloomy near-term forecast, we can find comfort in the fact that over the next twenty years, our two regions will be the fastest-growing globally, according to the World Air Traffic Forecasts 2020-2040.
Total passenger traffic is forecasted to grow fast at a compound growth rate of 5.2% in the Middle East and 4.7% in Asia-Pacific.
Among the top 10 fastest-growing countries above 50 million passengers by compound growth rate from 2019 to 2040 are projected to be Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran in the Middle East and Indonesia, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and China in Asia-Pacific.
As you (digitally) opened this first issue of the new year, we hope you noticed the new cover design and fresh new look of the magazine.
Ever since its launch in 2007, coinciding with the merger of the ACI Asia and ACI Pacific regions to form ACI Asia-Pacific, the appearance of Asia-Pacific Airports has been refreshed every couple of years. In this refresh, we see a return to proudly spelling out Asia-Pacific Airports. You’ll also note more room for photos spotlighting the airports you operate and a change back to a larger format, which some of our long-term readers might remember.
We hope you like it and that it continues to keep you informed about all the latest news and developments from across our region. As your association, we will continue to fly the flag for the resumption of air travel.