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EVENTS NEWS Last modified on September 7, 2015

Review of ACI Latin America-Caribbean & World Assembly in Panama

The election of a new chair and vice chair, the passing of key resolutions and three days of passionate debate about the challenges and opportunities facing the airport industry ensured that last week’s ACI Latin America-Caribbean/World Annual General Assembly (WAGA), Conference & Exhibition in Panama was a lively affair.

In line with the recent tradition of promoting the existing vice chair to the position of chairman of the ACI World Governing Board, members unanimously agreed that Declan Collier, chief executive of London City Airport, would will succeed Fredrick Piccolo in the hot-seat from January 1, 2016.

Collier, who has previously served as chair of ACI Europe, promised members that he looked forward to the challenge and carrying on the good work of Piccolo.
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He said: “I am very honoured and privileged to be given this opportunity. We as an industry face many challenges and opportunities in the years ahead and I look forward to playing my part in helping ACI take advantage of some of these opportunities for not only the next five years but for the decades to come.”

ACI World’s director general, Angela Gittens, joined Collier in praising outgoing chair Fredrick Piccolo for his commitment to the organisation and his leadership over the last two years.

For his part, Piccolo commended Gittens for raising ACI's profile as a trusted partner, especially through increased collaboration with the International Civil Aviation Organization and other industry stakeholders, and noted that Collier's tenure as would usher in a new era of accelerated progress for the organisation given his years of experience in the airport industry.

Bongani Maseko, CEO of Airports Company South Africa, was elected vice-chair of the World Governing Board.
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“I would like to congratulate Declan Collier on his appointment as chair of the ACI World Governing Board and at the same time thank outgoing chair Fredrick Piccolo for his strong commitment to the organisation during his tenure,” said Gittens.

“I would also like to congratulate Bongani Maseko on his appointment as vice-chair. He has been a strong advocate of ACI’s work and having him as vice-chair will be a major asset for the organisation.

“Both Declan and Bongani are gifted, passionate leaders and their elections mark the beginning of what I am sure will be an era of new accomplishments for ACI as we continue to work on behalf of the world’s airports to make sure their voices are heard throughout the aviation industry.”

Further on the topic of ACI's future trajectory, members approved a number of resolutions related to airport rates and charges; supporting ICAO's ‘No Country Left Behind’ campaign; support of airport initiatives to increase efficiency; enhancing the passenger experience; using safety data for aerodrome design; and continued airport support of the goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2020.

An impressive 620 delegates and 45 exhibitors attended this year’s event – a record for a joint ACI World/ACI Latin America-Caribbean conference – which was hosted by Tocumen International Airport and had the theme of ‘Airports: Shaping our future’.

El presidente

Day one of the conference began with the official opening where attendees heard from Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, President of the Republic of Panama; Tocumen’s general manager, Joseph Fidanque III; Hector Navarrete, president of ACI Latin America-Caribbean; and ACI World chair Fredrick Piccolo speak about airports’ significant contributions to their local economies; Panama’s important place in the world as the hub of the Americas; Tocumen International Airports’ impressive new Terminal 2; and the importance of planning now for future challenges and opportunities.

A keynote address by Jorge Quijano, CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, left nobody in any doubt about the continued importance of the 101 year old canal to Panama’s economy.

The conference opening was followed by two sessions: 'A day in the life of an airport CEO in 2025', where in panelists provided insights on the future of airports, including their strategic visions, challenges and opportunities, and ‘Waves of the future’, which featured presentations focusing on the ways in which airports can cater to an emerging group of air travellers – the generation of passengers that will be travelling for the next three to four decades.

Another highlight of the first day was the Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) ceremony for those who have successfully graduated over the last year.

“I always say my favourite part of WAGA every year is congratulating our AMPAP graduates,” noted Gittens.

“In line with the theme of this year’s conference, ACI, along with ICAO, its partner in the AMPAP initiative, is committed to ensuring that the airport industry has a deep talent pool from which to draw in the coming years. This year’s AMPAP graduates are proof positive that our future is in good hands.”

Sessions on ‘Can we get smart about security’; ‘Doing it right when things go wrong’; and ‘Best practice in customer experience: Here’s what’s happening’, took centre stage on Day 2 of the conference.

The event itself began with a series of pre-conference forums/workshops on safety, the environment, human resources and maximising commercial revenues. 

The standing room only forums and symposia marked the beginning of three days of presentations and discussions aimed at charting the course for a safe, secure, sustainable and economically viable future for the world’s airports.
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The ACI World HR Forum was centred on the importance of airports engaging their workforce and attracting future talent. It featured a panel dedicated to exploring the challenges related to engaging employees and two workshops on attracting talent and ensuring work-life balance.

In her presentation about ‘The challenges of employee engagement’, Munich Airport’s Theresa Fleidl revealed that a study carried out by Corporate Spirit for ACI Europe revealed that only 33% of airport staff in Europe were ‘highly engaged’ and that very few “were prepared to go that extra mile”.

The study also revealed that 23% of staff were ‘disengaged’ and as such harboured negative thoughts about management, leadership and changes, which they felt had been poorly implemented while a further 44% were labelled ‘efficiency critics’ because of the critical views of their leaders and their decision-making.

Fleidl, Munich’s vice president for professional training policy and HR marketing, said: “Our definition of employee engagement means the willingness and commitment to go that extra mile when required and not just be satisfied with what you’ve got.

“The results showed that about one third of airport staff are highly engaged and that two-thirds are either disengaged or somewhere in between. This was somewhat surprising and shows that there is a lot of work to be done.”

Taking place at the same time as the World HR Forum was the Environment Forum, which focused on how airports can secure permission to grow. Attendees explored topics such as environmental constraints, tackling emissions management and engaging communities, in addition to learning about the latest developments from ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, which has gone global with 128 participating airports.

The afternoon’s Safety Symposium was dedicated to exploring emerging safety priorities and risk mitigation; ICAO’s safety priorities for Latin America-Caribbean; FAA initiatives in the region; and ACI’s popular Airport Excellence (APEX) in Safety programme.
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Taking place concurrently was the Commercial Forum. Maximising commercial revenues continues to be a key management objective at airports worldwide, despite airport size or ownership model, and attendees had occasion to evaluate the latest airport commercial trends worldwide with a particular emphasis on developments in the Latin America-Caribbean region.

“This year’s pre-conference programme was expanded from last year’s due to popular demand, and we’re very pleased with the turnout – in fact, all four forums were at capacity, a clear indication that delegates are receptive of these value-added pre-conference events,” enthused Javier Martinez Botacio, director general of ACI Latin America-Caribbean.

While ACI World’s Gittens added: “There is no better way to begin a conference dedicated to shaping the future of airports than by concentrating on four ACI priorities: safety, environmental stewardship, our people and economic sustainability.”

• A more detailed and comprehensive report of the conference will be included in the October/November issue of Airport World, which is out early next month.

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