Luis Felipe de Oliveria
During Airspace World, ATM Magazine had the opportunity to have an ​​​​​​​onstage fireside chat with the Director General of ACI World, Luis Felipe De Oliveria. We kicked off the discussion by addressing the pandemic. It’s impossible to look back on the last year three years in our industry without addressing this topic.

Q - What are the lessons we’ve learned that should carry forward to address future challenges that might come our way?

A - The most important thing we learned is that collaboration is essential to ensuring the aviation ecosystem is able to function efficiently and continue to grow. We all faced the same challenges and now it’s time to look to the future. According to the latest ACI World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2022–2041, total passenger traffic worldwide is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% from 2021–2041, to reach 19.3 billion passengers by 2041! As a result of this growth, the industry will recover to 2019 levels by 2024, driven mainly by domestic travel.
During this time, the aviation industry must also work toward its commitment to reduce environmental impact by reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement. And we can’t overlook the economic impacts to our industry (like all others) of  mounting debt levels, increased energy cost, staff shortages and other inflationary pressures.

Another outcome of this time is the learning that preparedness is key. This is addressed through Public Health & Safety Readiness accreditation which is an assessment that evaluates how aligned airports’ public health and safety measures are with the ICAO Council's Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) recommendations, along with other industry best practices.

Q – Where do you see new opportunities for our industry in the short term?

A – The voice of the customer cannot be overlooked and should be at the centre of what we do going forward. Some of the programmes that provide opportunities to guage how were doing as an industry are as follows:

  • ASQ Awards announced earlier in the week of Airspace World
  • Airport Customer Experience Accreditation program
  • Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation program.

We’ve already touched on environmental focus in the prior question, but even though we’ve agreed to the 2050 goal, there is still a great deal of work to be done. There needs to be further advocacy work with regulators to help support airports’ work to develop and implement their decarbonisation action plans. This requires collaboration among all stakeholders to increase the availability of renewable energy and financing of new technologies to support capacity building and to address operational/infrastructure adaptations.Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and the Airport Carbon Accreditation program are also factors that will help to promote these goals.

Rebounding the economic and hiring situations are key. Airports are still struggling financially and haven’t fully restaffed following the pandemic. Financing and modernisation (which would include digitisation) are key elements to promote economic health. Hiring is not only about finding the right staff, but also about attracting future generations to work in aviation. This needs to be supported not only by the airport industry, but regulatory and educational institutions.

And it’s not only about the large international airports, smaller regional airports have the same challenges and need the same support.

Q – During the show, the ACI World-CANSO Airport System Capacity Enhancement program MoU was signed. What does this mean?

A – The program aims to bring closer levels of collaboration between both parties in the context of promoting the safe, efficient, and sustainable development of civil aviation. One of the core areas of cooperation to come from the MoU is the Airport System Capacity Enhancement (ASCE) Program aimed at unlocking airport capacity and supporting the sustainable growth of air travel demand. The ASCE program provides a comprehensive onsite review led by industry peers to optimise the use of airport system capacity, both in the air and on the ground. The airports and ANSPs being reviewed benefit from an assessment tailored to their unique needs and will receive expertise, practical recommendations and targeted solutions.

A pilot is planned to take place at Jorge Chávez International Airport, in Lima, Peru this year, with another one intended in the coming months. Outcomes in addition to collaboration are focused on reducing delays and inefficiencies, reducing costs for airports, ANSPs and airlines and supporting the reduction of emissions.