21st ACI World Annual General Assembly, Opening Remarks, Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World

Good afternoon.
As we close on our 20th Anniversary year, I would like to take some time to reflect on how you have positioned us to march successfully to our next milestone anniversary.
I hope that you have a chance to read the book highlighting our first two decades of service and enjoyed learning more about our history and hearing from the visionary leaders who founded our organization and brought us to this significant point.
First and foremost, the central fact of my existence since this time last year when you made the strategic decision to relocate ACI World headquarters to Montréal in order to forge a stronger relationship with ICAO.
I want to report to you on the move itself and on that relationship with ICAO. We have very good news on both fronts.
The move: shortly after the Bermuda conference we signed a ten-year lease in the same building in which we had our ICAO liaison office but on the 18th floor, in the same section as the IATA offices and just across the street from the main ICAO building. Because we stayed in the same building we were able to avoid an early termination penalty. We moved into the new space on 14 March and the Geneva staff relocated.
We had our ceremonial grand opening on 3 May, an event well attended by ICAO delegates and staff. With the strong support of our former chair, Jim Cherry, we received maximum financial and logistical assistance from Montréal International such that, as promised, we have not had to raise assessments and we were able to seamlessly continue services to members. Indeed, parallel with the move project, we have replaced our dated I.T. infrastructure to both deter the risk of system failure as well as to pursue strategic objectives of providing better communication tools for ACI committees and other members.
We have many people to thank for the success of the relocation project, not less than the veterans who made the move and the veterans who chose not to move but who have committed to make the transition process as smooth as possible. And, again, to Geneva Airport that, under the leadership of its CEO Robert Deillon, bade us a sad goodbye but has continued its strong support of ACI.
I would like to single out Victor de Barrena, our director of training and human resources. Sadly, he will not make the move and we will say goodbye to him at the end of the year. Victor masterminded the relocation and managed the hiring of sixteen replacement and new positions for Montréal.
We have brought many of the new staff here to Marrakech so that you can meet them and they can learn how best to meet your needs.
ICAO engagement. This is what ACI was created for and this is the reason ACI world moved.
I can tell you that the affirmation for that decision came within weeks of the move. We declared our safety expert as the observer on the air navigation commission and in his first meeting, he was able to prevent a decision by that body that would have been adverse to airport interests. Specifically, by a circuitous route that normally would have been difficult for us to detect, a proposal to make a more stringent prescription for runway end safety areas (RESA’s) managed to get through to the committee. Our safety expert, through direct debate armed with data quickly developed by the ACI Safety and Technical Operations Committee, diverted that effort towards taking a risk-based approach to RESA’s. Without that close engagement with ICAO, we could easily have missed this until we saw the State letter and would have been forced to institute a country by country campaign against it.
At a broader level, we find ourselves aligned with ICAO in more ways than physical proximity.
Last year, you asserted your support for the airport excellence in safety programme (APEX in safety) where airports are forging safety partnerships to help one another identify and mitigate their safety vulnerabilities. For its part, ICAO has set as a priority the implementation of its standards and recommended practices and appreciates that they need to work with industry to accomplish their strategic objectives.
For us it’s airport safety: for ICAO it is specifically runway safety. As such, we have overlapping top priorities and desire to formalize an agreement to cooperate and collaborate in safety data collection, promotion of safety culture, capacity building and training, participation in each other’s activities and development of a joint annual implementation plan. Towards that end, we have before you today a resolution seeking your encouragement of a memorandum of understanding between ICAO and ACI.
Not that we are waiting for a memorandum of understanding to work together.
Shortly after our official opening in Montréal, ICAO convened its first Global Runway Safety Symposium which attracted some 500 government and industry participants from all over the world. For the first time, ACI served as a Platinum sponsor of the event and attracted a great deal of attention from civil aviation authorities with a key exhibition location and significant materials.
Speaking at the event, I drew attention to the airport’s role as conveners of local runway safety teams, a notion that has now been embraced by ICAO. We, along with other industry stakeholders, are collaborating with ICAO on a series of regional runway safety symposia – the first of these was the Latin America region with a Symposium in Miami in which ACI participated.
ICAO has developed a runway safety action plan tool and a portal for teams to share information and insights.
For our part, the World Standing Committee will produce state-of-the-art runway safety guidance to members highlighting mitigation for runway excursions, incursions, foreign object debris and wildlife hazards.
We will ask you today to declare your support for these efforts to abate the causes of runway accidents, the leading source of serious aviation accidents.
While certainly safety is the top priority for both ICAO and ACI, it is not the only area in which we are engaged. We are already preparing for two major policy-making events coming up in the remainder of this triennium.
The next one is the air navigation conference in November 2012 which will centre around modernization and the harmonization of the modernization efforts being undertaken in several countries, most notably the United States, the European Union and Japan.
As part of the ICAO Secretary’s preparation, they have set up the Future Aviation Challenge Team, made up of high-level representatives from these governments, and international organizations including ACI. The first focus of the challenge team is to find ways to get States worldwide to endorse modernization and global interoperability of their air traffic management systems, to foster positive business cases and induce confidence for individual airlines and other players to make the necessary investments to implement the modernization.
For the Air Navigation Conference, the most important agenda items for airports will be technology to improve capacity and safety and reduce noise and emissions.
For our part, ACI seeks to bring airport Collaborative Decision Making into greater worldwide focus, building on progress achieved at some airports, notably in Europe, where ACI Europe has strongly promoted Airport-CDM in collaboration with EUROCONTROL.
We have before you today a resolution that supports a joint project with our sister global organization for air traffic management, CANSO, to promote the worldwide introduction of airport collaborative decision making systems that can interact with in-flight collaborative decision making, exchange data among airlines, ground handlers and airport operators and support further work with ICAO on air traffic modernization.
We also plan to link this project with the development by the airport IT Standing Committee of a pilot interchange service, based on ACRIS (airport community recommended information services), as defined in ACI Recommended Practice 502A10, which was approved by the Governing Board in April 2011. This will integrate landside operational considerations to enable overall optimization of the aviation system so we don’t just move the logjam from the air onto the ground.
Back to our ICAO engagement. Security. ACI engages with the ICAO AVSEC panel that has a large agenda, including air cargo screening, screening of persons other than passengers, that is, the insider threat, the next generation security screening process and the nature of the restrictions and screening for liquids, aerosols and gels. Last year, you approved a resolution that, among other things, called for a measured response to the air cargo security threat and so far, this has been the case. At this point ICAO seeks to define high risk cargo with the intention to create a standard requiring all high risk cargo to be screened by means capable of detecting an improvised explosive device. ACI is comfortable with this approach since it is in keeping with the notion of a secure supply chain and confines the additional measures to the small proportion of cargo that represents a higher risk.
We are less comfortable with the debate over screening for the insider threat since the proponents are calling for a highly prescriptive standard which violates the principle of a layered, risk-based approach to security which we espouse. This issue has been highly divisive at the ICAO level.
Also, last year we presented you with a resolution calling for ICAO, Regional and National regulators to work with industry stakeholders in the industry to develop coordinated plans for the eventual lifting of the restrictions on the carriage of LAGs internationally when the technology to screen LAGS effectively is sufficiently mature and operationally proven. You may recall that EU airports were facing an April 2011 deadline for a partial lifting of restrictions. At the 11th hour, with the lack of cooperation from several EU countries, and the United States, the European commission postponed the change but not before several airports had invested in expensive, unproven equipment and in training staff. This still leaves the April 2013 deadline for full lifting of restrictions on the carriage of liquids, aerosols and gels but, again, without consideration of harmonization with other countries to avoid confusion and inconvenience to passengers and without consideration of the efficacy and logistics of the technology to avoid the security threat and lowered throughput that airports would encounter.
So, again, we ask you to call for ICAO coordination with governments and industry to develop a rational plan for lifting restrictions on liquids, aerosols and gels. ACI Europe is working with the EC to help facilitate trials of liquids screening equipment at EU airports. And ACI World continues to press for ICAO to play its global coordination role.
We also ask you to weigh in on another issue that may cause great harm to airports and local economies. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is due to go into effect next year; its wide-ranging implications have caused a reaction in several other countries. Without commenting on the scheme itself, we call upon ICAO to bring order by pursuing the global sectoral approach to aircraft emissions we have continually advocated.
Lastly, we are preparing for The Air Transport Conference in 2013 which has as its objective assessment of the current situation of international air transport by reviewing trends and developments since the Last Air Transport Conference in 2003 and by examining key issues and related regulatory arrangements. This will assist in the establishment of ways by which to improve the regulatory environment for the sustainable development of air transport.
ACI has asked to add ‘airport infrastructure financing’ to the agenda. Starting with a Symposium in April 2012, this will be another opportunity for the airport industry to push for more economic autonomy and a more liberalized regulatory environment. The World Economic Standing Committee in coordination with the Regional committees will lead our effort here following up on the success of the conference on the economics of airports and air navigation services in 2008.
Well, that’s a partial synopsis of our ICAO engagement. I didn’t mention our response to ICAO’s proposed Annex 14 revisions. I didn’t mention that the ICAO Africa region participated in our APEX in Safety pilot programme or that we are further strengthening our collaboration on training, building on the quality of AMPAP and individual joint coursework.
To address a projected deficiency in human capital for the aviation industry, ICAO launched the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals Task Force. ACI is active in this task force and they have asked us to develop an Airport Safety Competency Framework. This framework will then be adopted by ICAO with the aim of providing airports with a tool in order to ensure that any staff and management who are responsible for airport safety are able to demonstrate they have the required safety skills. I haven’t talked about our continued engagement with ICAO on environmental issues, both as ACI directly and through our cross-industry participation with the Air Transport Action Group.
While engagement with ICAO is not all that we do, the relocation certainly serves to focus our efforts and consolidate our resources.
I will wind down here because we are continuing the tradition of ending the afternoon with the Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) graduation ceremony.
Now entering its 5th year, AMPAP has attracted nearly 600 participants from over 80 nations. Some 150 professionals have completed the six-course curriculum and here in Marrakech we honour the largest ever graduating class.
Let me not close before thanking my colleagues, the Regional Directors, who have supported World and each other keeping the best interests of airport members and business partners uppermost in mind. We collaborate and cooperate to avoid both gaps and redundancies so that your dues dollar or euro goes as far as it can. I hope you have noticed the increased synergies with the committees, conferences and projects among us.
I especially want to thank Maggie Kwok who has recently retired just last week from ACI Asia Pacific and to thank her for her support to ACI World.
And I particularly want to express my personal gratitude to the World Governing Board that stays engaged and provides wise stewardship. My Chair and Vice-Chair are never too busy to talk to me or respond to my emails asking for advice or a decision and the Executive Committee is most tolerant of teleconferences that cause them to stay up late at night or arise very early in the morning to cover the globe.
If you will indulge me, I would like to call Max Moore Wilton up to the podium now so that we can present him with a small token of our appreciation for his strong leadership these last two years. He saw this organization through probably our most momentous year since we were founded and with his usual Australian charm. Max: Maggie told me that I would enjoy working for you and she was right! Please accept our thanks and our respect.
Thank you