Airport World editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the 28th ACI Europe/ World General Assembly, Congress & Exhibition in Brussels and the ‘land development’ theme of this issue.
The recent 28th ACI Europe/World General Assembly, Congress & Exhibition in Brussels provided the perfect opportunity to catch up with colleagues and old friends, make new acquaintances, learn more about what some of the world’s airports are up to and, for once, listen to what the airlines had to say about a number of different matters!
To be honest with you, with the exception of IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac’s admission that he felt that it was a “weakness” that airports are not part of the governance system for slot allocation, I think the presence of so many airline speakers at an airport event was more significant than what they actually had to say.
A few years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find one airline CEO at an ACI event, so to have four – one of which (Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr) delivered a keynote address in which he constantly referred to airports and airlines as being part of the aviation family – can only be good for the industry and airport/ airline relations going forward.
Unfortunately, IATA issued a statement a day later wrongly declaring that a new study commissioned by ACI Europe revealed that the current system for slot allocation meant that passengers now enjoy “an unprecedented level of choice and competition in air travel, despite the constraints imposed by the lack of new airport capacity”.
ACI Europe’s response was quick and immediate, stating: “Contrary to claims made by IATA, the study commissioned by ACI Europe from global consultancy ICF does not confirm that the rules for allocating scarce capacity at Europe’s congested airports are fostering competition and growing connectivity. In fact, the ICF study is totally silent on airport slot allocation rules. Its focus is on the dynamics of air fares and points to the absence of direct relationship between the level of airport charges and air fares.”
While ACI Europe’s director general, Olivier Jankovec, stressed: “The slot allocation rules essentially define the parameters by which airport facilities are being used by airlines. Yet, airports have had no say in the formulation and neither in the way these rules are applied. No other industry is faced with such a paradox. Now is the time to address that.” Ah, family matters!
Slot allocation was one of dozens of different topics addressed by airports at the hugely engaging and enjoyable event in Brussels. Our comprehensive review of the event can be found on pages 8-14 of this issue.
In an ideal world, of course, every airport would have enough runways and capacity to handle as many flights as they wanted, making the issue of slot allocation virtually irrelevant. Sadly, this is not the case and is never likely to be, so airports have to make maximum use of this scarce resource and all the land they have at their disposal.
It just so happens that ‘land development’ is the theme of this issue of Airport World and in it we actually talk to a gateway with a sizeable plot of land (Edmonton International Airport), one with very little (Aniak in Alaska) and another that is creating more space for a new runway and terminal by reclaiming land from the sea (Hong Kong International Airport).
We also learn about some innovative commercial developments going on at a handful of North American airports; Helsinki’s airport city plans; and how geographic information system (GIS) technology can help airports better manage and operate the airport site, improve safety and boost the bottom line.
Elsewhere, you can read about the power of social media; some of the latest security developments at airports across the world; London Stansted’s upgrade; and the planned new terminal at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport. Enjoy!