Dolliole and Miller Launch Airport Minority Leadership Initiative

Last month at the 2024 ACI-NA/AAAE Washington Legislative Conference, ACI-NA Chair Kevin Dolliole and AAAE Chair Perry Miller announced a new initiative called Soaring Scholars: Airport Minority Leadership Initiative, which aims to increase the percentage of minorities in leadership roles at U.S. airports. Dolliole, Director of Aviation for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Miller, President and CEO of Richmond International Airport, launched this initiative to recruit, educate, and develop the best and brightest students beginning in high school, through college, and into management training positions at airports across the United States.

It will be established as an independent non-profit organization that will focus on four key strategies.

  • Identify minority high school students who are interested in the airport industry and demonstrate promising leadership talent
  • Partner with colleges and universities to create pathways to assist students in their pursuit of higher education in either aviation or any other relevant field
  • Provide students with leadership development, essential people skills learning, and coaching opportunities
  • Offer scholars internships and management track roles at airports

In the coming weeks, Brad Mims will join as the Executive Director of Soaring Scholars. Mims has served as a transportation professional in government and the private sector for over 40 years. More recently, he served as the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and he currently works with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Additionally, nine airports will participate in the Soaring Scholars pilot program. These airports will help to develop the key components of the internships and management training program. They also committed to being among the first to provide employment opportunities to the highly qualified candidates developed through this initiative.

The airports are:

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport
  • Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Long Beach Airport
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
  • Richmond International Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport
  • San Antonio International Airport

Customizing Common Use at Boston Logan International

By Colleen Hamilton, Principal, Art of Context

Colleen Hamilton is a principal with Art of Context, a Boston-based technology firm helping airports improve passenger experience through innovative technology solutions that reduce client administration and ensure extension for future innovations. Art of Context has recently been certified as a DBE.


The long-awaited expansion of Boston’s International gateway, Logan Airport Terminal E, has finally arrived, and with it, the next generation of airline operations and passenger experience. The project saw a significant expansion of the terminal that included a variety of improvements in energy efficiency, the use of more natural light, and a statement making façade complete with custom prismatic paint, a striking color known as Boston Red. The expanded terminal also adds four long-awaited gates.

As part of the team responsible for the evolution of the terminal, Art of Context worked with stakeholders to create and implement a boarding control app for Common Use gates. The interface is part of Art of Context’s Airport Display Platform (ADP). It is web-based with an intuitive interface driven by robust, secure technology. The app can be used from common use terminals or stand-alone on a tablet. It was rolled out terminal-wide in early August.

Customizing Common Use

All of the gates in Terminal E are Common Use gates. ADP’s Sign Studio module drives the suite of displays that figure prominently in the boarding podium and within the gate pier. The ADP templates tie into both flight data and the boarding control app interface to display the correct complex scenario.

This template-driven approach provides consistency while also allowing airlines the freedom to customize messaging to accommodate their specific boarding practices.

From the Common Use terminal, agents log into an intuitive interface and can select necessary boarding groups (even boarding out of order if desired) and choose which doors are used. The signage within the gate pier adjusts for domestic or international arrivals or departures depending on whether travelers need passport control. If arriving travelers require customs clearance, signage directs them to the appropriate path.  There are sign groups for international departures, domestic arrivals and international arrivals.

The new gates are “swing gates”/”flex gates” They can accommodate one large wide body jet or the simultaneous boarding of two smaller planes. The process is data driven, so the signage will accommodate either scenario automatically.



Customs and Border Protection Compliance

The system accommodates the CBP Biometric Facial Comparison technology. Upon login, the gate agent selects standard or biometric boarding. If biometric boarding is chosen, the boarding process instructions and privacy notices are displayed on a totem sign satisfying Customs and Border Protection mandates.

It’s a complex system, but, by taking the time to understand stakeholders’ needs, and combining that with our depth of experience, AOC excels at making the complex simple.

More than 43,000 international flights departed from Boston in 2022. This new process will allow airlines to customize the experience to their standards while providing an informative, expedient boarding process.

To learn more about how Art of Context can help you improve your passenger experience with Airport Display Platform please visit us at










This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

‘Reclaiming the Sky’ Resiliency Project Winners Announced on Sept. 11 Anniversary

Even 22 years later, the stories of esteemed aviation leaders and their response to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks continue to provide learning opportunities for the benefit of future airport industry professionals.

As we hold space today to remember those we lost and honor those who helped in the aftermath on September 11, we are proud to honor the legacy of so many aviation leaders through the “Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Project,” an essay contest organized by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University and ACI-NA to engage up-and-coming airport industry leaders.

Through this year’s essay contest, young professionals from across the airport industry were invited to read the stories of aviation heroes profiled in the book, “Reclaiming the Sky,” by Tom Murphy, and participate in a workshop with aviation mentors to explore lessons about resiliency.

Twenty-five openings were allotted for the program. Participants had the chance to learn about the stories of airport and airline employees who went to work in New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, on the morning of 9/11 expecting a normal day, only to find that “just doing my job” was to become the creed of heroes. The stories, including the powerful teachings from Susan M. Baer, the General Manager of Newark Liberty International Airport on 9/11, tell how the front-line aviation employees responded with courage, selflessness, and resiliency that day and in the weeks and months that followed to rebuild their lives and reclaim hope – while helping to get the country moving again.

This year’s winners were Michael Gyan, Project Manager, John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport; Salvatore Mendola, Director, Brands and Concept Development, Areas USA; and Deborah Blass, Arup, Associates, Security and Risk. Their award-winning essays can be read at

In addition to cash prizes, these three winners will also be recognized for their achievements during the 2023 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Long Beach, CA, on October 3.

The young professionals who participated in the 2023 include Deborah Blass, Arup; Carey Metcalfe, Lee County PA; LaTarryl Hall, City of Charlotte; Ryan Thomas, Parsons Group; Adam Ussher, Dane County Airport; Anna Phillips, Columbus Airport; Michael Hamilton, Savannah Airport Commission; Michael Gyan, John C. Munro Hamilton Airport; Juan Martinez, Chicago Dept of Aviation; Antonette Chambers, Clarksville Airport; Kendall Griswold, GSP Airport; Arjun Nair, Syracuse Airport; Jimmy Vazques, San Diego Airport; Aireyanna Kennedy, Syracuse Airport; Benjamin Torres, San Diego Airport; James Gerrald, Jacobs; Ana Zivanovic, San Francisco Airport; Esther Chitsinde, HDR; Christopher Liese, Munich Airport USA Holding; Anandhi Mahalingam, Transsolutions; Kristin Jewell, Baton Rouge Airport; Julie Seglem, Areas USA; Madison Strong, Tulsa Airport; Roeland Visser, InterVISTAS; Jeff Taylor, Jacksonville Airport, Salvatore Mendola, Areas USA; Brooke Bowman, Areas USA.

Judges for the essay competition were aviation industry leaders Cedric Fulton, Virginia Buckingham, Lysa Leiponis, Eileen Ammiano, John Duval, Kathy Denker, Debbie Roland and Jennifer Juul.

For more information, visit For aviation companies looking to participate in the expansion in 2024, contact Tom Murphy at

It’s Time for Airports to Evolve Beyond Traditional Data Sources

By Mark Summers, General Manager/Airports at Zartico

We are in the midst of a data renaissance — one that has the potential to be as disruptive to the aviation industry as any technological innovation we’ve seen in the 21st century.

Let’s face it — traditional airport data has changed little over the years. It may be more timely and accessible, thanks to automated systems improvements, but the truth is that the operational data airports receive from the DOT, TSA, airport systems, air traffic control, and airlines is static, disconnected, and best used to manage costs.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of big data has made powerful consumer insights available to organizations of all sizes. For airports, these new insights into human movement and behavior are the key to unlocking untapped revenue opportunities and making data-led strategic decisions that will shape the future of aviation in our communities.

While legacy data is and will continue to be a critical component of running a successful airport, it’s time to ask yourself if it’s really enough to grow a thriving airport in a world where passengers have more choices than ever before.

In order to drive new revenue streams, innovate processes, and compete with nearby airports, you need a new source of data that can give you a clearer picture of your passengers, who they are, and where they go.

These are the insights that Zartico provides partners. By drawing on the largest commercially available geolocation data stream and pairing it with event intelligence data, we offer a level of visibility that goes miles beyond what airports have traditionally seen.

Consider a few questions:

  • Do you know who is moving through your airport? Where they live? What they do after arriving through your gates? Understanding passengers’ home markets and seeing where they go after flying into your airport opens new opportunities to target marketing efforts and grow footfall.
  • Do you have an eye on future impacts to airport traffic? A single sporting event, festival, or even solar eclipse (hello, April 2024!) can bring a sudden swell of passengers. Knowing what’s ahead gives you time to increase air service or staff up accordingly.
  • How do you measure up against your competitors? How many passengers in your catchment area are choosing a nearby airport instead of yours? And how many inbound fliers are landing elsewhere and driving the final leg to your destination?
  • What about parking? Even small incremental gains in parking utilization can have a big impact on revenue.

Answers to all of these questions and more are now accessible in Zartico’s latest Destination Operating System, ZDOS™ Airport. This strategic planning tool is purpose-built for airports with brand-new insights that address airports’ unique needs.

Our passenger-specific data model facilitates fast, meaningful analysis without the need for technical staff or complex data processing. And ZDOS™ Airport is the only service available that applies machine learning to airport usage data sets to guide marketing, air service development, and content creation.

Get the insights your airport needs for future-focused decision-making — reach out to book a demo of ZDOS™ Airport today.

Mark Summers is Zartico’s General Manager for Airports. He has been involved in commercial aviation for his entire professional career, working with Eastern Airlines, SITA, and Rockwell/Collins Airport Services. He is a former ACI committee member and resides in the Atlanta metro area.







This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

Airport 5G Update: Leveraging CBRS for Smart Operations

By Stephanie Czaplicki, Boingo Wireless Vice President of Account Management

The next generation of airport wireless is here, improving the passenger experience and accelerating innovation. From biometric ticketing to digital signage, security cameras, mobile concessions and more, airports are undergoing monumental change.

To keep up with passenger demands and operational efficiencies, private 5G has emerged as a go-to solution for airport IT teams. Airports must provide reliable, secure and fast connectivity for passengers and staff. Private 5G, leveraging CBRS spectrum, rises to the challenge. Providing extensive bandwidth and increased latency—working alongside existing public cellular distributed antenna systems (DAS) and Wi-Fi—private 5G enables secure on-premise data management and uninterrupted coverage for critical operations.

While Wi-Fi has solidified its rightful place in an airport’s network infrastructure, Wi-Fi alone can no longer handle the multifaceted demands of passenger mobile traffic and myriad connected IoT devices. And, when it comes to connected devices for critical airport operations such as biometric checkpoints and advanced cameras, security is a chief concern.

Private 5G networks complement existing public Wi-Fi networks, providing the added security and bandwidth needed. The 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) shared spectrum plays an essential role in unlocking the full potential of private wireless. Utilizing the shared spectrum, airports can quickly and cost-effectively isolate mission-critical connectivity solutions, keeping public networks separate from private ones. Private CBRS networks are flexible, scalable and fully optimizable for unique demands. Furthermore, the favorable mid-band spectrum can be more cost effective than traditional licensed LTE.

With the right technology, 5G can bring an environment to life. Take, for example, the state-of-the-art converged network Boingo designed and deployed at Newark Liberty International Airport’s new Terminal A, featuring Wi-Fi 6, cellular DAS, and private LTE over CBRS. The Boingo Private Network supports daily activity on the airport apron, including airside and outdoor areas where aircraft are parked, loaded and unloaded, refueled, boarded and maintained. This network solution provides a cost-effective deployment for outdoor connectivity in a tough to access area requiring extensive bandwidth for connected devices.

Private networks are much-talked about today by airport IT teams nationwide. They are also a network solution with a history of proven success. Boingo Wireless launched the first CBRS airport private network at Dallas Love Field in 2018. Since then, private 5G and LTE networks have been successfully launched by Boingo at several large venues including: Petco Park, home to the MLB San Diego Padres, to power outdoor mobile point-of-sale transactions; Chicago O’Hare Airport for touchless wayfinding; and, the United States Naval Air Station Whidbey Island where a private 5G network is supporting Department of Defense base operations and mission-critical naval functions.

An airport’s 5G network should be designed to offer fast, reliable, and secure connectivity to passengers and airport staff, while also being flexible, scalable, and able to integrate with existing systems. While these requirements may sound lofty and difficult to achieve simultaneously, CBRS private networks check all the boxes and make airport digital transformation possible. Learn how private 5G and CBRS can benefit your airport by visiting 










This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.


ACI-NA Private Wireless Working Group

The ACI-NA Private Wireless Working Group provides a platform for ACI-NA members to discuss the existing Private Wireless landscape, share information on CBRS technology, review use cases for this technology, and consider some potential collaboration between airports and other stakeholders to position the airport industry for the future.


Airports Council International – North America Airport Insights Report

By Isaac Pato, Data Analyst; Jon Jager, Solutions Engineer; and Loretta Manning, Digital Marketing at Cirium.


Airports Council International – North America regularly provides industry intelligence: research, reports and resources which helps its members stay ahead of the curve and better serve their passengers, customers, and communities. Toward that end, Cirium, in collaboration with ACI-NA, utilizes comprehensive data sets such as schedules, flight status, aircraft configuration, ownership data and many more, to produce the Airports Council International – North America Airport Insights Report. Cirium brings together powerful data and analytics for travel companies, aircraft manufacturers, airports, airlines and financial institutions, among others. The aim of this Report is to bring in-depth insights to the airport community.

With this monthly report, it is ACI-NA’s and Cirium’s goal to provide useful insights which will equip airports with information needed to see trends and comparisons as a snapshot now, and recent trends over time, as well as forecasts.

With this data, airport stakeholders will better understand flight schedules, operations, and airport and airline trends focused on the region with a global snapshot for comparison. The report includes:

  • Top 4 U.S. and Top Canadian Airports and Airlines by Seat Volume
  • Seats by Week trends
  • % of Daily Flights Cancelled
  • New Routes added and Seats by Cabin Class trends
  • Forecast seats for the next two months broken down by regional and global seats

Sample Report insights

From the April 2023 report

In the above graph we see that global cancellations have trended significantly lower in response to China’s COVID recovery.

Of course, a large factor of the cancellation trend is seen in the above non-NA airlines seat volumes graph above. (The report also includes Top NA airline seat volumes.)

Three Chinese airlines, China Southern Airlines (CZ), China Eastern Airlines (MU), and Air China Limited (CA), have doubled their seat capacity year-over-year, as shown by the black line (100% difference). Meanwhile, the bar charts indicate that these three carriers are adding seat volume on a week-over-week basis, likely indicating that Chinese recovery is still in progress.

In comparison, IndiGo (6E) and Ryanair (FR) both show modest year-over-year growth, consistent with normal operations.


Airlines continue to grow

This chart shows new direct flight routes added this month in North America. It is helpful to see where carriers are focused on expanding their networks.

Because we use an entire 12-month period preceding the current month, these route additions are more likely attributable to genuine expansion rather than seasonal operations.





Forecasting seats

In the report, we also show seats forecasted – two months ahead. We see how agile airlines are making changes all the time up to the last minute.

Airports need to see forecasts for many reasons, including:

  • billing
  • budgeting
  • planning
  • staffing
  • and more

Look for the Airports Council International – North America Airport Insights Report each month in the Centerlines newsletter. Download the May Report now.

Passive Optical Network offers high-speed, future-proof and energy-efficient connectivity at Orlando International Airport’s new terminal

By John Hoover, Marketing Director, Tellabs

Orlando International Airport’s new Terminal C had an initial opening in September 2022, greater fanfare in the December 2022 time frame and has been in full flight ever since. They have published a few announcements touting how they are “one of the first North American airports to install a Passive Optical Network (PON), utilizing fiber-optic technology to create a high-speed, future-proofed, energy-efficient IT system.”

As the PON equipment provider at DFW, ORD, LGA, CDG and MCO, it seems fitting to expand on the reasons why this innovative fiber-based network is high-speed, future-proof and energy-efficient.

  • High-Speed – This fiber-first design promotes the use of optical cables to transmit data across far reaching distances and significantly limits the use of traditional copper cables. Orlando International Airport is one of the first airports to use an Optical LAN with symmetrical 10 gigabit speeds to extend Ethernet connectivity miles across a passive network. Better yet, all that fiber cabling installed today at the airport has no known theoretical bandwidth capacity limitation. Now that’s high-speed and from a sustainability standpoint, that cable will never need to be replaced (i.e., think back and remember all the times copper CATx cable had to be removed in favor of a newer faster CATx – never more!). Now that segues nicely into our next topic.

  • Future-Proof – The 10 gigabit PON technology is based on wave-division-multiplexing that can stack optical transmission over different colors of light without interference. That allows for 1 gigabit and 10 gigabit PON to use the same fiber cable and infrastructure, plus future 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit versions can be added without conflict. Additionally, the optical to electrical endpoints are equipped today with multi-gigabit Ethernet pluggable optics, so they can grow from 1 gig to 2.5 gig to 5 gig and even 10 gigs as needed in the future (i.e., now think of the future bandwidth needed to connect Wi-Fi 7 access points).

  • Energy-Efficient – It has been well documented how these optical LANs can reduce energy consumption, both electrical consumption and the rippling effect of lowering impact on building air conditioning. For Orlando International Airport’s Terminal C, as a result of the extended reach over fiber optic cabling, they were able to reduce the number of communications rooms required for their IT systems. With fewer communications rooms, the airport is saving energy on both lower power and less HVAC. Even better yet, the airport was able to convert that real estate footprint, saved by eliminating communications rooms, to revenue generating purposes (e.g., lease that space back to retailers and vendors).

If you’d like to learn more about airports’ use of Passive Optical LANs, be sure to speak with one of the Tellabs’ airport connectivity specialists (table 18) at the 2023 Airports@Work conference at the Sheraton Grande Seattle in Seattle, Washington from April 24 – 27.


About the author

John Hoover is a marketing director at Tellabs and board director for the Association for Promoting Optical LAN (APOLAN). Over the past 20 years, John has influenced industry milestones such as early passive optical network deployments, video implementations, and now Passive Optical LAN adoption into enterprise markets.  John Hoover LinkedIn Profile.






This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

FIDS Reimagined – Leveraging FIDS Screens to Improve Passenger Experience

By Colleen Hamilton, Principal, Art of Context

Maximizing resource use and improving the passenger experience are at the top of any airport’s priority list. FIDS has long been a key function in the airport ecosystem and new technologies exist that allow airports to maximize the information displayed while improving the passenger experience.

Design template (example data).  Leverage space on landscape screens without sacrificing display of flight information.


Low-Row FIDS

Single use screens are a thing of the past. Today’s cloud-based FIDS provide opportunities for airports to automatically repurpose empty screen space to offer travelers a sense of place, useful travel information, or even advertisements.

FIDS has a large amount of metadata that can be used to drive other content allowing airports to automatically fill empty screen space. Repurposing screen space provides the opportunity to increase revenue with advertising, improve loyalty with airport promotions, and encourage tourism by highlighting local culture and attractions.

The display of non-flight information is based on a data-driven trigger that allows additional content such as a QR Code for information about the airport parking membership program, to automatically be shown, but only when there is enough room on screen to make the code easily scannable.

Advertisements of different sizes can be slotted as space allows and can be tied to our proof-of-play functionality for information collection and statistics gathering.

Urgency-based tile FIDS

Showing urgency tiles and standard row and column FIDS side-by-side in the same space provides data in different formats to engage travelers with varying learning styles. It allows airports to impact passenger flow – keeping passengers close to concessions to increase consumer spend, while also providing travelers with the most up to date information.

The tile format gives passengers an easily scannable view of their flight, along with strong color cues letting them know when it’s time to either relax or get to their gate. Tiles even flash yellow when particularly urgent. Our solution ties into the airport’s common-use system to leverage status messages entered by gate agents and to determine tile messaging and urgency styling.



To learn more about how Art of Context can help you reimagine your FIDS and to optimize your screen real estate, please visit us at booth 2 at the ACI Airports @ Work conference in Seattle, April 24 – 27, or visit us at


Colleen Hamilton
is a principal with Art of Context, a Boston-based technology firm helping airports improve passenger experience through state-of-the-art technology solutions that reduce client administration and ensure extension for future innovations. Art of Context has recently been certified as a DBE.






This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

Innovating with QR Codes

By Neil Chatwood, Transportation Lead, Omnivex Corporation

QR codes are not a new concept. They have been around for close to 30 years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a resurgence in the use of QR codes in some new and innovative uses.

Virtual Queuing

A QR code on a digital screen can quickly make information portable to a mobile device, and the pandemic dramatically increased the need for this. Now wait times, scheduling information, and many other details can update in real-time on an individual’s mobile phone. In addition, the QR code enables organizations to control crowds more effectively and allows folks to move around a facility while waiting for an appointment, flight, etc.

Passenger Queue System

In 2021, Omnivex and Wipro collaborated with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) on a cloud-based Passenger Queue System (PQS) pilot project to improve the boarding experience. Passengers scanned a QR code with their mobile device to access real-time boarding information without installing an app or updating their browser. Omnivex Ink, a digital communications platform, facilitated this.

This innovative approach to using QR codes had several advantages:

  • Reduced congestion around the gate: Passengers didn’t need to swarm their gate to hear announcements or see the gate screen. Additionally, the gates with the PQS ensured boarding announcements and zones were visible to all guests and met ATPDR (accessible transportation for persons with disabilities regulations) requirements.
  • On-time performance: Gates utilizing the PQS system reported zero delays.
  • Reduced questions and announcements: Gates utilizing the PQS system experienced a decrease in both questions about boarding and announcements at the gate.
  • Increased revenue opportunities: Having information accessible on their mobile phone allowed passengers to visit nearby restaurants or shops. 86% of flights collected ancillary revenue.
  • No privacy concerns: Passengers could access real-time flight information from their mobile phones without logging into a platform, and the system tracked no personal information.

Monetization of screens

The combination of QR codes and digital signage provides a unique opportunity to monetize screens. For example, share vouchers and highlight limited-time deals or advertisements with a quick QR code scan. In venues such as airports, shopping malls, and stadiums, this provides a way to recoup the cost of their digital signage network while providing an enhanced passenger, shopper, or fan experience. These facilities can generate advertising revenue by enabling shops, services, and restaurants in their venue to promote themselves.

For example, in an airport, a QR code on a screen as the traveler walks to their gate provides a coupon for a new restaurant in the terminal. Similarly, a QR code on a lobby screen in the stadium includes ticket information for upcoming events.

The value of QR codes is clear, and innovative use cases will continue to evolve. QR codes are a quick and easy way to make information portable and accessible from a mobile phone. They also help align with “quiet” strategies in venues like airports by eliminating the need for announcements over the PA system.






This article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

’60 Minutes’ Correspondent Scott Pelley: Aviation is a Miracle

During the 2022 ACI-NA Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Alessio Olivetti caught up with Scott Pelley, the 60 Minutes correspondent and 2022 annual conference keynote, who shared his experience as tireless traveler and long-time journalist.


AO: You travel all around the world. It’s safe to say you’re a frequent traveler. What’s the most memorable airport experience have you ever had?

SP: My most memorable experience would have been at the very beginning of COVID, when thousands of people in the United States were dying every day.

I was covering COVID, and I was flying through Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. I got off the plane and I was the only person in the terminal. Everything was closed. There were Texas State troopers clearing every plane and taking down the contact information for every passenger who came off.

I could hear the soles of my shoes clacketing on the floor. I was literally by myself walking through Houston Intercontinental, which I came through many times surrounded by tens of thousands of people in the terminal.

It was just such a shocking, remarkable experience to understand better in an airport than anywhere else the effects the COVID was having and would continue to have on the national economy. If Houston Intercontinental is empty of people, the economy has stopped, you can tell.


AO: You wanted to become an astronaut when you were a child. The U.S. has been the cradle of the aerospace industry for a century. Why are people fascinated in stories about aviation and lately about space tourism?

SP: People are still fascinated about the courage required to leave the Earth and fly beyond the atmosphere. Even though we have been watching that happen in the United States since 1957, the year I was born by the way, people are still fascinated about the images coming back from space, our astronauts on the International Space Station for example. And now in this all-new world of private companies launching people in space we are beginning to imagine, ‘Hey, it could be me, I could go too!’

In terms of aviation, there is just something about flying. I should be the most jaded airline passenger at all times. I’m a multi-million miler on many different airlines, but I’m still thrilled when I get on a plane and it leaves the ground. It never gets old.

I was on the A380 the other day, which is the size of an apartment building. The engineering involved in building something like an A380 or a 747-8 is a miracle, getting that thing off the ground almost effortlessly. Engineering is far beyond me, but I have so much respect for it.

There is another thing about aviation. People complain insensitively about their flight being delayed, canceled, or their luggage being lost. I get all of that, it’s very frustrating.

But I would argue that aviation today is a miracle. You can literally be anywhere on this Earth in 24 hours. Imagine such a thing.

I’m amazed at the way the airline industry runs all around the world with thousands of operations every day, and virtually accident-free. It’s one of the greatest achievements of man.


AO: What’s your favorite interview if you have one?

SP: Now I have a new favorite interview and that’s the one I did in April with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

I’ve never met a leader of a country who has impressed me more. The courage that he took to stay in Kyiv when the Russians were coming at him in three different directions. And when he walked outside into the courtyard and filmed a video message on his phone.

That moment galvanized the country to resist. It was on the knife’s edge of collapsing until he walked out and said, ‘We’re not going anywhere, we’re all staying here.’

Just an incredibly courageous and impressive man who forced the Russians to retreat from Kyiv and from Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv. He has punched way above his weight leading his people so courageously.

At the end of the interview, I said ‘Mr. President, we wish you all the luck in the world.’ He broke into English saying, ‘Half of it, I think we need half of it.’

A man with 44 million people on his shoulders and he is still having a sense of humor.