The Voice of the Worlds Airports
Airports Council International (ACI) is the only global trade representative of the world’s airports.
Established in 1991, ACI represents airports interests with Governments and international organizations such as ICAO, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and provides information and training opportunities to raise standards around the world.
Airports are an invaluable asset for the communities they serve, helping them to develop their full economic potential and ensure stable growth, bolstering long-term business development and employment. As stewards of this community resource, airport operators need an organisation that can help them add value to their business.
In 1991 airport operators around the world created Airports Council International – the first worldwide association to represent their common interests and foster cooperation with partners throughout the air transport industry. Through ACI, the airport community now speaks with a single voice on key issues and concerns and, despite regional diversity, can move forward as a united industry.
ACI pursues airports interests in discussions with international organisations. The most important relationship is with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), where international standards for air transport are debated and developed. ACI defends airports positions and develops standards and recommended practices in the areas of safety, security and environment initiatives. It also advances and protects airport interests in important policy changes on airport charges and regulation, strengthening the hand of airports in dealing with airlines.
At the same time, ACI provides the platform for pursuing a constructive and cooperative relationship with the airline associations, governments and regulators. On critical industry issues – liberalisation, ownership, capacity planning, regulatory restrictions, and environmental action – ACI defends airports views and strengthens their ability to shape the future of our industry, backing up individual airport actions.
ACI offers its members numerous training opportunities, a customer service benchmarking programme, detailed industry statistical analyses and practical publications.
ACI encourages its member airports to continuously improve operational and cost efficiency to moderate the cost of flying and to mitigate intensifying capacity shortfalls, but also to create sufficient rates of return enabling to invest in additional capacity.
Airports are stable providers of infrastructure assets, even in the sometimes turbulent aviation industry. While airports and airlines are intrinsically linked and rely on one another to operate efficiently, they are based on different business models. Airlines are able to move quickly to respond to changes in traffic flows, by leasing or retiring capacity. Airports, on the other hand, must make long-term planning decisions to safeguard capacity sometimes 50 years into the future.
In spite of this, through efficiency gains in operations, staff productivity and venturing into new revenue streams, airports have held user charges at a stable 4% of airline operating costs for over two decades. All the while, airports have invested to meet the needs of a burgeoning aviation industry and developed new business models.
Over the past 30 years, airports have evolved from being simply municipal or Government infrastructure providers into sophisticated and business-oriented service providers. As in every industry the pressure to operate efficiently is constant and arises from customers and stakeholders alike.
In recent years airports have played a critical role in keeping air traffic affordable and stabilising operating costs for airlines. Or, as it was the case after 11 September, 2001 and SARS, airports have shown high flexibility in dealing with their airline’s customers to relieve some of the financial pressure they endured.
For more than four decades, the aviation industry has had to counter and respond to the threat of terrorism. Air transport has been a high-profile target for terrorists that seek to publicise their cause and further their aims on the international stage. While the number of attacks has declined significantly, the threat has not. The emergence in the past decade of religious fundamentalism and the suicide terrorist presents a very real and present threat to civil aviation.
Whereas the earlier attacks on civil aviation were largely focused against aircraft inflight, the modern trend reflects a broader front of attack, with the aim of causing mass fatalities. We have seen other public transport infrastructure (such as railway systems and underground mass transit systems) targeted by suicide bombers, resulting in very high loss of life. But civil aviation and airports remain a high profile target to the terrorist and other criminals. ACI member airports are on the front line and aviation security remains one of the highest priorities.
Aviation security has undergone significant changes since the events of 11 September, 2001. ACI takes a very active role in informing regulatory authorities of the impact of new security rules, helping to shape those rules and ensuring that changes in security are communicated to airport authorities.
ACI has formulated a number of policy positions on security issues which guide the organisation and member airports. These can be viewed in the ACI Policy Handbook Chapter 7. These are supplemented by more detailed position papers on specific issues, which are developed in response to developments in the industry.
Delivering excellence on passenger service quality has become one of the most important objectives for airports worldwide. Even in these challenging times, more and more airports have committed to improve the passenger experience, reaching and overcoming what travellers are demanding. At the same time, airports are constantly facing a growing requirement to increase the efficiency of their infrastructure and reduce operational costs, providing a flexible framework for stakeholders to deliver their services in a coordinated way.
In this environment, it is clear the value of Information Technology (IT) as the main way for airports to constantly meet passengers and stakeholders’ needs. Moreover, IT has become the enabler of virtually all airport business processes. By implementing new IT solutions, it is possible to ensure that operational requirements are consistently, efficiently and reliably met, on good days and bad days, during peak operational periods as well as periods of flight disruption.
All of the ACI World IT initiatives are coordinated through the ACI World Airport IT Standing Committee (AITSC), established by the ACI World Governing Board in April 2009. The AITSC is constituted by leaders from airports and business partners around the world. The main mission of this Committee is to formulate Recommended Practices (RPs) and develop guidelines, benchmarking and training materials to help airports find the best business solutions for themselves, their partners and their customers.
One of the main outcomes of the Committee was the publication of the Common Use IT Handbook in November 2007, an excellent and useful collection of best practices on Airport IT, and the development of the Airport Community Recommended Information Services (ACRIS) initiative. If you want to receive more information on the ACI World AITSC, please contact me directly via any of the options listed below.
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