Americans Are Starting to Fly Again

States around the country are taking their first steps to safely reopen our economy and to start rebuilding a sense of normal life. This Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in North America — a well-deserved benchmark that we’ve made it through a difficult start of this year. This typically marks the beginning of our busy travel season, and while COVID-19 has quieted the typical buzz in our airport terminals and dramatically reduced the crowds, we are finally seeing an uptick in passengers who want to travel again.

Despite the challenges we still face, the Transportation Security Administration expects more than 350,000 people to travel through our airports this Memorial Day weekend. That is a far cry from the 2.7 million air travelers who passed through our airports last Memorial Day weekend, but it nearly doubles our traffic from weeks prior. Airports welcome these early signs of a rebound, and they are ready to help passengers navigate the new normal as we work to adapt to the future of travel together. If you’re traveling this Memorial Day weekend, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Arrive early: Airports around the U.S. have enhanced safety standards and measures for all passengers. This could mean more delays as you travel through security checkpoints. Be sure to arrive early so you are able to make it to your gate and flight on time.
  • Adhere to physical distancing: Remember to keep your physical distance (6 feet) when going through checkpoints, shopping at concessions shops, or standing in line at customer service. By keeping your distance, you can help stop the spread of germs and keep you and others in your party healthy.
  • Wear a facial covering: Many states and local governments as well as airlines are requiring that masks be worn when occupying a public space. Please be sure to bring a facial covering with you to the airport and wear it throughout your duration there. For facial coverings to be worn properly they must cover your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout your time while traveling. Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue away in a trash bin. Avoid touching your face.
  • Be patient: We are all learning these lessons together, so please understand that our dedicated workforce is doing everything in their power to adapt to these new requirements as quickly as possible to ensure the travel experience remains as seamless as it can be in the face of new health and safety guidelines.

As the nation continues to open up and more people begin to travel, implementing these best practices will help to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Our airports are eager to welcome you back.

Scott Pelley to Keynote Airports Council Annual Conference

Meet our 2020 Annual Conference Keynote

Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) this week revealed that Scott Pelley, the award-winning 60 Minutes correspondent and former CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor will deliver the keynote address at the 2020 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition on September 14.  Set to be held September 12 – 15, 2020, in Grand Rapids Michigan, this year’s conference will bring together more than 2,000 delegates from across the airport industry to exchange ideas and promote innovative solutions to emerging challenges.

After covering some of the most compelling and important national stories of the last 20 years,  Pelley is one of the most recognizable faces in American journalism today. In its first season, The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, won a Peabody Award and was the only network evening news broadcast to grow its audience. Taking over for Katie Couric, he gained an additional 821,000 viewers in his first nine months in the anchor chair. Few journalists have made as wide and as deep a mark on broadcast news as Pelley has. He is known for covering everything from breaking national news stories to politics and wars. Since he brought that experience to 60 Minutes in 2004, half of all the major awards won by the broadcast have been for stories reported by Pelley.

Pelley also formerly served as CBS’ chief White House correspondent, where he covered the biggest domestic stories of the 1990’s. As an Emmy Award-winning journalist, he has covered the major events and moving stories that have captured the attention of the American people. He has interviewed world leaders such as President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his presentations incorporate poignant stories gained from more than 300 60 Minutes features.

During Pelley’s time as chief White House correspondent, he covered the investigation of President Clinton, breaking many original stories in the process. He has also reported on a wide array of domestic and foreign stories from the White House, covering events ranging from child homelessness in Florida to the aftermath of Japan’s natural disaster.

The Washington Times wrote, “The legacy of Edward R. Murrow lives at CBS in the daring, long-range investigations of Scott Pelley.” The Baltimore Sun called Pelley the “single face of the broadcast,” noting that he is trusted with the “biggest interviews and stories.” Allen Neuharth, founder of USA Today, noted that “Pelley threw hardballs” in his 2007 interview with President Bush, and Bob Woodward, writing in The Washington Post said, “Scott Pelley nailed the crucial question” in his interview with former CIA Director, George Tenet. Salon.com said, “He restores a little of our faith in TV news while performing hugely-important, world-bettering reports along the way.”

Pelley has won three George Foster Peabody Awards, a George Polk Award, two Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, five Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Award, the Writers Guild of America Award, a Loeb Award, and a duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, among others.

Pelley received a 1996 Emmy Award for his work on the TWA Flight 800 disaster and a 1994 Emmy Award for his reporting on the Branch Davidian conflict. While his 2007 Darfur report was honored with another. Pelley has been a correspondent on many prestigious news teams who have, in total, won 37 national Emmy Awards.

Members of Congress Announce Framework for Infrastructure Bill That Includes a PFC Increase

Last week, ACI-NA welcomed the news of an infrastructure investment framework – called the “Moving Forward Framework” – which was announced by a group of Members of Congress, led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The start of the new year represents an important opportunity for Members to announce their top policy priorities and we are pleased that improving airport infrastructure across the U.S. is a high priority for so many Members, as well as the American people.

The Moving Forward Framework calls for raising the federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and indexing it for inflation. If enacted into law, a lift on local PFCs would allow airports to fund necessary infrastructure improvements, including repairing aging facilities and making expansions to accommodate record-breaking passenger traffic.

In his remarks, Chairman DeFazio highlighted how airports are in dire need of infrastructure upgrades and addressed the fact that the very same airlines who are comfortable with increasing baggage fees oppose an updated Passenger Facility Charge because they know it will increase airline competition in many airports. You can watch his remarks here.

Immediately following their announcement, ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke thanked the group, and specifically Chairman DeFazio, for their leadership.

“The House Democrats’ infrastructure framework recognizes the time has finally come to increase the woefully outdated PFC,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke. “A long-overdue adjustment to the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) will provide the lift America’s airports need to take off into the future. Unlike a $40 bag fee that just pads an airline’s bottom line, a modernized PFC will help our terminally challenged airports make transformative investments in new infrastructure that will improve the passenger experience for millions of travelers. I am particularly thankful for the leadership of Chairman DeFazio, the father of the PFC, for making this one of his top legislative priorities.”

Burke also joined American Association of Airport Executives President and CEO Todd Hauptli and Airport Consultant Council President T.J. Schultz in a joint letter thanking Chairman DeFazio for his leadership on this issue. In the letter they write:

“…we strongly support proposals in the House Democrats’ infrastructure framework that call for raising the federal cap on local PFCs and indexing it for inflation. We are grateful for your leadership. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to advance legislation that would help airports finance critical projects and repair our nation’s infrastructure.”

Just this month independent research from RAND Corporation confirmed the best way to fix America’s airports is by modernizing the PFC. Further, according to a recent ACI-NA study, U.S. airports face more than $128 billion in infrastructure needs by 2023, with over 56 percent of the needs inside aging terminals. President Trump has repeatedly called for renewed investment in American airports, so we will be listening closely for any references to infrastructure investments in his State of the Union address.

We look forward to working closely with Congress to get this framework over the finish line so that we can finally empower airports to improve their infrastructure and continue to meet the demands of the traveling public.

LAX CEO: We Need to Bring the Passenger Facility Charge Back to its Original Buying Power

Last week, Los Angeles World Airports Chief Executive Officer Deborah Flint addressed the Washington Aero Club at a lunch event in Washington, D.C. In her speech, Flint described Los Angeles International Airport’s (LAX) current $14 billion investment project and how it will help to relieve congestion and improve the LAX travel experience for passengers.

She also discussed how airports across the country are using technology to improve efficiency and ease long lines.

Finally, she urged Congress to return the Passenger Facility Charge to its original buying power by updating it to be $8.50. She noted that it’s been two decades since the PFC was updated and that it’s well overdue that we modernize it to keep up with inflation.

Excerpts from her speech are below.  Her full remarks are available here.

Flint on the need to modernize the PFC:

A new level of investment in infrastructure is needed and for airports this can be real by bringing the Passenger Facility Charge to its original buying power.

“It is time. It has been two decades that the PFC has been unchanged even though there have been 26 models of the iPod, which was released the same year. It has been so long that the styles have even come back – parachute pants and tracksuits are back in again.

The ask is to increase the PFC from $4.50 to $8.50 and index it for inflation in the future. That will make a difference for airports of all sizes – large, medium, and small.”

Flint on LAX’s infrastructure projects:

We are making a $14 billion investment in an Automated People Mover train system, roadways, a Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility that will combine the 20 separate facilities that burden our neighborhoods and roadways, a connection to regional rail, and modernizing each terminal.

“And we are beginning the environmental review to improve the airfield, build a new concourse off of Terminal 1, and a new Terminal 9, which requires billions of additional dollars.”

Flint on airports improving efficiency through biometrics:

Back to my 16 year old and her airport expectations. For her, wifi and cellular are like air – as they have become for all of us. Her face is everything.

“I am talking about biometric aircraft boarding gates, self-baggage drop, TSA and CBP screening – all biometrically enabled at LAX today. While privacy and data security must have high bars, the efficiency of biometrics is astounding. We boarded an A380 using biometric facial boarding in 20 minutes.”

Flint on the future of the airport industry:

Airport by airport, working with our partners in airlines and throughout the industry, we need to be excited, energetic and chase the next evolution. We need to push for our airports to be more innovative, sustainable, to be stewards for local communities, to bring the joy and certainty back to air travel, and together get the funding to invest and let our industry shine. At Los Angeles World Airports our vision is Gold Standard Airports … Delivered.  The U.S. deserves that vision for each and every one of our airports.”

Infrastructure Week 2019: 20th Century Airports in a 21st Century World

Today marks the official start to Infrastructure Week 2019, the long-celebrated week each year when the infrastructure community comes together and engages in a broad conversation about the importance of modern infrastructure.  For us, every week is Infrastructure Week (we’re not the first ones to make that joke and we won’t be the last…), but we’re proud to join in and represent airports in such an important dialogue this week.

As part of our participation in Infrastructure Week, ACI-NA will continue to amplify our important message about the need to invest in America’s aging airports.  Beginning today, passengers in airports will have the opportunity to hear directly from ACI-NA on the benefits of an improved and modernized airport system.  Watch by clicking below.

We couldn’t think of a better way to get our message in front of those who stand to benefit the most from the improved passenger experience, increased airline competition and lower airfares, and enhanced safety and security that will come when we meet the nearly $130 billion in infrastructure needs of America’s airports over the next five years.

We are proud to count CNN Airport Network as a valued ACI-NA member and an active participant in our Beyond the Runway Coalition.  CNN Airport Network’s tremendous support for our industry is greatly appreciated as we ramp up our efforts to engage in a broad conversation about the importance of modern airports to local communities.

For the latest on Infrastructure Week, visit the Centerlines NOW blog or following along on social media using #InfrastructureWeek #BuildForTomorrow.

Checked Facts: Airports Are Not Taxpayer Funded

Benjamin Franklin said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.  If there’s one more thing we can be certain of on April 15, it’s the airlines continuing to spread misinformation about how America’s airports are funded.

It is common misconception that airports are funded with taxpayer dollars.  In reality, infrastructure projects at airports in the United States are funded through three key mechanisms: federal grants through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) local user fee, and tenant rents and fees.

No matter how many times the airlines repeat it, the PFC is not tax. The PFC is a local user fee that airports rely on to repair aging facilities, improve aviation safety, improve the passenger experience, create more airline competition to lower airfares, and accommodate rising demand.  With nearly $130 billion in infrastructure needs over the next five years, the PFC is the cheapest and most sustainable option available.

Here’s why:  The PFC empowers those who know the most about the local airport needs, infrastructure investments, and safety upgrades to make the best decisions for the airport while balancing the passenger’s interests. The PFC is collected locally and, unlike other aviation-related fees and taxes, stays local. It never gets passed to Washington, D.C. The PFC is the only funding tool that maximizes this kind of critical local control.  The airlines’ erroneous “tax” argument doesn’t hold water.

Today’s modern conservative movement is diverse and often fractious, so it can be hard to find unanimity on almost any issue. But when it comes to support for the PFC, conservative think tanks and advocacy groups speak with a clear voice in support of this quintessential user fee.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action, Reason Foundation, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, and Citizen Outreach are some of the leading anti-tax and free market organizations that agree the PFC is a local user fee.

User fees represent a better way to pay for infrastructure. Under this system, the people who actually use the airport bear the burden of upkeep and modernization. That is the most fair and equitable way to fund it – passengers who don’t use the airport will never be asked to pay for it. Americans certainly deserve to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible.  How else would they be able to pay all those exorbitant airline bag fees?

BNA Is Ever-Expanding

By Douglas E. Kreulen, A.A.E., President and CEO, Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority

Nashville is on fire – there really is no other way to describe it. Always a great place to live, the city is now receiving an unprecedented level of attention from all across the country and beyond. National Geographic Traveller U.K. included Nashville on its “Cool List,” Business Insider named Nashville as one of the “33 Trips Everyone Should Take in the U.S. in 2018,” Forbes “The 20 Happiest Cities to Work in Right Now” list included Nashville, and the lists and accolades just go on and on. The word is out, and the world is coming here to see for themselves. In fact, according to recent U.S. Census estimates, 94 people are moving to Nashville every single day.

As aviation industry professionals, you know how this type of popularity and growth can put major demands on transportation facilities. The challenge is to anticipate and address those demands so as to best serve the aviation needs of the community.

The story of passenger growth at Nashville International Airport (BNA) has followed an irregular path. Nashville’s current terminal opened in 1987, built to accommodate the hub then-operated by American Airlines. Driven by that hub activity, BNA grew to serve more than 10 million passengers by 1992, though only 15 percent of which were origin and destination travelers. In the next year, however, American began reducing operations at BNA and ultimately “de-hubbed” from our airport, causing a steady decline in overall passenger traffic. As it turned out, the high water mark of 1992 would remain the passenger record at BNA for the next 21 years.

But the city and region continued to prosper, solid and steady, and passenger traffic grew likewise. With the end of the recession in 2009, Nashville boomed and growth surged, along with steep increases in air travel. Since then, we’ve been on a tear. By 2013, BNA finally surpassed that 1992 passenger record, and we would add an additional million passengers or more in each of the following five years, reflecting annual growth rates as high as 11 percent. Most recently, in our Fiscal Year 2018, BNA surpassed 14.9 million passengers, a ten percent increase, with nearly 90 percent origin and destination traffic.

This torrid growth required a response. Today’s passenger numbers are years ahead of the forecast found in our last master plan. It was clear to our Board of Commissioners and executive team that expansion plans needed to be finalized – and accelerated – to accommodate the region’s aviation needs.

So in 2016, after additional passenger analysis and forecasting, research and planning, we launched BNA Vision, our dynamic growth and expansion plan for Nashville International Airport. Upon its completion in 2023, BNA Vision will include a parking and transportation center, a new Concourse D, an expanded central terminal, an airport administration building, a possible hotel and transit connection, and a state-of-the-art International Arrivals Facility, among other features.

This billion-dollar project will be completed in phases, as to limit inconvenience and allow the airport to continue all operations. Current projects under construction include a terminal garage and transportation center; a second garage with an airport administrative office complex on top; Concourse D and ticketing wing expansion; and a terminal apron and taxilane expansion to accommodate the construction of our future International Arrivals Facility.

Our focus is on expanding and renovating BNA, and we’re working at a swift pace to add more than 500,000 square feet to our terminal. But the cranes and construction only tell half the story. Expansion for us also means adding air service to make certain we are taking Nashvillians to as many places as we can in the world while also bringing the world to Nashville.

In May of this year, transatlantic service returned to BNA after a 20-year hiatus. The long sought-after and highly anticipated service to London’s Heathrow Airport via British Airways was largely made possible thanks to the support from our community, business leaders, state and city officials and our Board of Commissioners. This new services truly opens Nashville up to the world with Heathrow serving as a gateway to so much of Europe and Asia. As our airport grows, and as Music City expands its increasingly recognized brand, we anticipate adding more international service to meet local demands and that of travelers worldwide.

And while we bring these dramatic changes to our airport facilities, it is vital that we maintain the sense of place and top-notch customer service our travelers expect. Nashville is truly a unique city – from the extraordinary food scene to the live music day and night for which we’re known. It is important to us that the moment you step foot off that plane you know you’re in Music City. This is top-of-mind with every decision we make during construction – the warm and welcoming vibe, the concession offerings, and especially the music. Our live music in the terminal program recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and touts more than 700 performances a year in six performance areas throughout the terminal, and we plan to add more. Nashville is southern hospitality at its best, and we want to make sure those values remain embodied in our approach to customer service.

So we’ve taken on a big challenge – expand the airport while maintaining that “Nashville feel.” We’re confident we will accomplish our goals thanks to the thousands of our hardworking colleagues and partners from all over Middle Tennessee. These are the people who make the aviation industry go. The people who show up every day, arriving before the sun rises and working until long after it sets, to open our storefronts and music stages, provide passenger safety and make sure our baggage systems are running while tackling so many other tasks necessary to make a modern airport function. Because of their commitment and dedication, we know the best days at BNA are in front of us.

And in this fashion, we’ll provide our world-class city with the world-class airport it deserves.

Airplane takes off in front of airport at sunset

Finding a Seat at the Slots Table

Airports Align to Amplify Visibility, Voice in Worldwide Slots Guidelines Process  

By Nicole Nelson

Imagine a dozen members of your extended family showing up unannounced at the front door of your home to tell you they’re not just staying overnight, but they’re moving in.

This visualization is how Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Director of Aviation, Huntley A. Lawrence, views the airport’s role in the current system to allot airport capacity, with the International Air Transport Association representing the family of international air carriers and airports having no voice when made to obligingly open their doors.

“You may love these people – at least some of them anyway – and you want to accommodate them as best as you can, but without time and money to plan, and buy extra beds, linens, and food, you’re not always going to be a very good host,” Lawrence related. “You may normally be an excellent host, but without having a say about who stays over, and when, you simply can’t be expected to shine.”

It is Huntley’s desire to not only provide the PANYNJ’s airports—including slot-constrained John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, and LaGuardia– but all airports the ability, “to shine always.” To that end, Lawrence and his staff have become increasingly vocal on the need for airports to have a voice in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Worldwide Slots Guidelines (WSG) process. Designed by airlines decades ago, airlines continue to write the rules and govern the process of allocating airport capacity that, ironically, does not include airports.

“You are literally at your airport, and these new rules are being made, are being modified, or being considered, and you are an outsider looking in,” Lawrence confounded, citing the need to make the current slot system more transparent, pro-consumer and pro-competition.

Lawrence said there is no question that the current system is complex by design. The legacy carriers have designed a system that makes it difficult for new airlines, or non-IATA carriers, to penetrate a multifaceted system of codes, computer messages, and also meetings.

“I am not a regulator of slots, but what I’m saying is that we’ve got a less-than-okay process in the United States,” Lawrence said, noting the current slot system poses a barrier to market entry that should be looked at very closely with all key stakeholders. “We don’t have an issue with the rules that are written. We actually have an issue with how the rules are administered, and the transparency of the entire and overall process.

“We have been crystal clear that there is an opportunity to improve collaboration, and utilization of our assets through a way more transparent process. We are certainly looking at a strategic review of the Worldwide Slot Guidelines to advocate for reform, but our focus is not on authority, or power, or control. It is the effect on the consumer, the market, competition, and the people that fly, most of all.”

PANYNJ has been looking at the various changes, or iterations of the slot order in place today, and has responded to various Notices of Proposed Rulemakings from the FAA and is a key participant in the Strategic Review of the WSG, a collaborative initiative of Airports Council International, IATA and the Worldwide Airport Coordinators Group (WWACG) that was welcomed by the Economic Commission at the 39th ICAO Assembly. Since the aviation community agreed to establish this in-depth review of the slot guidelines in 2016, PANYNJ Manager of Industry and Regulatory Relations, Bradley Rubinstein, has helped shape strategic direction for airports globally as the North American representative to the ACI Expert Group on Slots. Chief Strategy Officer Patty Clark has served on the Access to Congested Airports Task Force in the Strategic Review.

After participating in monthly meetings for the better part of two years on the taskforce, Clark said her contribution within the WSG subcommittee is her continued advocacy for the sharing of WSG data with the airport community.

“Believe it or not, data is almost exclusively given to airlines, but never to the airport, which is really unconscionable in many ways,” Clark said. “My task force that includes facilitators, airlines, and airports, are in agreement, so we hope to see positive movement there, in that data would be provided to airports and airlines. It seems very elemental, yet that’s a pretty heavy lift to get two words in.”

In addition to requesting the information for airports among the other stakeholders, Clark recommended universal formatting in Excel spreadsheets.

“One of the things that happens is you will get reams of paper with 800 pages of data requiring significant mining, and special software, et cetera. If you provide the data in a format that is universally accepted, more stakeholders could use it.

“Given the other things that we need to talk about, that is what we may accomplish at the end of the day. It is not as significant as the work that we really need to get done,” Clark said. “I’m not going to deny it is progress, but it is kind of disappointing given the barrier to entry for new entrants.”

“The Port Authority has long sought to make our airports available to anyone who wants to participate in them, but the U.S. conference where domestic slots are traded is conducted by A4A, and airports and the FAA don’t really have visibility into it,” Clark said, noting that the FAA simply receives the results with no transparency whatsoever. “Other entities besides airlines should decide who gets the benefit of this very valuable resource and that there are other considerations beyond that particular airline, and how and whom they choose to work with.”

EUROPEAN CONSENSUS

Düsseldorf Airport CEO Thomas Schnalke shares Clark’s sentiments. His Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, Lutz Honerla, is an engaged member of both the ACI-World Expert Group on Slots and the ‘Access to Congested Airports’ task force as part of the WSG strategic review.

“Jointly, the three industry partners propose greater transparency in the complex processes of slot distribution and, explicitly, an improved information situation, especially for airports,” Düsseldorf Airport CEO Thomas Schnalke said. “These proposals must now be integrated into the WSG. The goal of best utilization of scarce airport capacities can be reached only if the same information is available to all three partners on time.

“We see ourselves as equal partners when it comes to setting rules about how scarce airport infrastructure is utilized,” Schnalke continued. “We are committed to a rulebook that is consistent and set up by all industry partners together, and which equally reflects the legitimate interests of all involved.”

Schnalke said slot allocation at Düsseldorf, a coordinated Level 3 German airport, follows clear rules based on European regulation implemented in 1993. The core principles of this regulation are quite similar to the principles of the IATA WSG, including the principle of ‘Historical Rights.’

“The incumbent airlines at Düsseldorf have greatly benefited from this, because they could develop their route networks over many years and, with appropriate slot use, are entitled to reassignments,” Schnalke explained. “We embrace this core principle because it secures certainty in planning for the airport and its airlines. On the other hand, the principle makes it harder for new airlines to enter Düsseldorf. More than 90 percent of all slots at Düsseldorf are grandfathered and as such, the number of available slots for new applicants is low.”

Schnalke said that all too frequently the German airport coordinator has to deny slot applications from new applicants on a large scale or can assign them only with significant delays.

“Often, new applicants don’t receive enough slots to build a competitive flight program at Düsseldorf,” Schnalke said. “In this respect, I welcome the joint initiative by airlines, airports, and slot coordinators for the strategic review of the WSG.”

A major point of discussion in this review is a slot distribution rule for new applicants that is adapted to local conditions.

“Local conditions differ from airport to airport,” Schnalke explained. “One example is the purpose that a particular airport has for traffic, the extent of the slot scarcity, or even the particular environmental concerns related to air traffic. In this respect, we are committed to giving utmost consideration in the slot allocation to the local conditions under which air traffic at the respective airport takes place. Naturally, this must be transparent and free of discrimination.”

CANADIAN APPROACH

Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) President and CEO Howard Eng shares similar opinions on the governance of local concerns with its North American, European and other global peers. The airport has taken an innovative approach to address localized concerns accordingly and is also actively participating in the Strategic Review of the WSG.

“The WSGs serve to shape the way we approach allocation of slots, but as a guideline, it’s understood that in some cases, local procedures developed in consultation between the airport, airlines and coordinator are more effective and appropriate to the airport’s operation,” Eng said, noting that in recent years, as demand and airport utilization at Toronto Pearson have continued to increase, there has been a growing need to improve schedule coordination through efficiency, process improvements and investments in technology. To this effect, and given the complexity arising from increasing traffic, the GTAA elected to assume full ownership of slot coordination in January 2017 from the management of a third-party coordinator. This shift has allowed the GTAA to improve coordination and alignment between demand and capacity within the airport community.

“As a Level 3 coordinated airport – a designation reserved for the world’s busiest airports – we’re advocating to play a larger role in a process that guides how we maximize airport capacity,” Eng said, noting GTAA’s unique position as the airport to take slot coordination in-house. “Upon assuming the role of coordinator, the GTAA made significant investments in people, technology and processes to support this undertaking. In our second year of coordination, we have demonstrated that an airport can successfully coordinate this process, and allocate slots related to airport capacity.

“This ‘made in Canada’ approach has been very successful, by improving upon the prior coordination process through and allowing the airport to leverage the process to better support operational planning and realize significant efficiencies.”

Other airports are also taking the opportunity to cater to their own localized needs including San Francisco International Airport. SFO deviates from the WSG and instead takes an approach that meets its own goals and Department of Transportation policy objectives.

“We view the Worldwide Slot Guidelines as just that…a guideline,” SFO Airport Director Ivar C. Satero said of his Level 2 airport. “In our opinion, what’s missing from the current WSG is a meaningful role for organizations that own the airport infrastructure. It is that omission that led us to take an approach that we feel is appropriate for our airport, one that retains gates as a public asset, has a regular reallocation that rewards efficiency, and allows us to stimulate and promote competition.

“We believe that if airports were to have a seat at the (WSG) table, it should come with decision-making authority and not simply a token seat as an observer.”

GLOBAL CONCERN

Most worldwide airports are categorized as Level 1, non-coordinated airports within the WSG. But regardless of the fact that only 300 airports worldwide are held to a slot facilitated Level 2 status where demand is close to capacity; or a fully coordinated Level 3 where demand exceeds the capacity, PANYNJ’s Lawrence believes the WSG to be a policy issue that all airports should be interested in.

“The fact of the matter is you’ve got a separate body that’s making these rules,” Lawrence said. “In the end, this is really about how airports are controlled and managed; how we protect the consumer; and ensuring that there is free and transparent access into and out of our airports.”

“This is really about making sure that we’ve got the best process for the traveling public, and also a process that ensures that we optimize our assets – our airports. I believe ACI is on our side, and we intend to continue to take up this fight.”

Crowd listening to a speaker at ACI-NA’s 2017 Annual Conference

Cheers to 70 Years: The Best Is Yet to Come

By: Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO, ACI-NA

2018 represents a great milestone for Airports Council International-North America as we celebrate our seventieth anniversary as the Voice of Airports in North America. Anniversaries like this provide a great opportunity to reflect on our past, celebrate our present and look ahead to the future.

As you know, air travel – and the world – has transformed immensely over the last seventy years. And our industry’s evolution along with it hasn’t always been easy or certain. That’s one of the chief reasons ACI-NA exists.

Then in a post-war world with a growing economy, air travel was increasingly accessible to the masses. As we entered the golden age of travel, airports faced many of the same challenges we see today, including burdensome government regulation, infrastructure and investment needs, and airline decision making.

Realizing that there was power in the collective, nineteen founding members convened in New York in 1948 to establish a body that would bring airports together in addressing the challenges and issues of an evolving aviation industry.  From there, our journey took off as the Airport Operators Council.

Looking back, this industry has overcome significant hardships and setbacks. From economic ebbs and flows to airline industry deregulation and airline consolidation to the September 11, 2001 attacks, this industry has always had to be nimble and responsive to the challenge of the day.

Your association has had to be nimble too. In the past seventy years, our name has changed from Airport Operators Council to Airport Operators Council International, and now to Airports Council International-North America in an effort to make room for our ever growing U.S. and Canadian membership and global connections.

While the issues of the past may sound familiar today, so much has changed. Today, airports operate more as businesses than they ever have before.  They are becoming cities unto themselves.

The current landscape presents many unique challenges that require solutions. Today’s airports are not your father or grandfather’s airport. We are seeing a change in the way technology affects air transportation across the world.

Meeting the demands of passenger and cargo growth has never been more important. Our airports must have the ability to modernize as they seek to accommodate rapid growth in passenger and cargo traffic. In the United States alone, airports need nearly $100 billion in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance in order to remain competitive with airports across the globe.

Solving today’s challenges are essential in order to lay the foundation for the future. As such, airports around the world are actively working to enhance competition, create efficiencies through technology, and improve the passenger experience.

There used to be more than thirty airlines that no longer exist because of airline consolidation. The future of the airport industry is at stake without an economic climate that fosters airline competition and choice.

Competition has many benefits in our industry, which can be enhanced through more air service routes and more airline choices. In order to ensure communities in North America remain connected to the global marketplace, we are actively working to make certain our industry – airports and airlines – are as competitive as they can be. Our work in this important area will only grow in the years ahead.

Technology will also be a large part of an overall improved and seamless passenger experience. Today, easiness is synonymous with technology. What new technologies can we use to our benefit? Biometrics is speeding up the boarding process for certain flights, and in a just a few years, all flights may be boarded with the scan of a face.

It’s clear that we must focus on enhancing the passenger experience for a successful future. But these challenges are too big for anyone to handle alone. And that’s where your association comes in.

Members always tell me the real value of ACI-NA comes through our ability to advance airport priorities in Washington and Ottawa, provide essential industry intelligence by keeping the pulse of the issues impacting airport operations, and foster industry collaboration by creating a forum to develop and exchange best practices.  The rich history of advocating for policies and services that strengthen airports will continue as we reflect on our accomplishments and look beyond the horizon.

ACI-NA is only as strong as its members and their active engagement. Our team is proud of the members we serve because of the profound and positive impact they have on local communities across North America. Thank you for your leadership.

Today, as we celebrate our seventieth year with a strong membership and transnational – even global with the establishment of ACI World in 1992 – reach, we recognize that there are obstacles still to overcome. We’re not done yet. We’re just getting started.

Here’s to the next seventy years.

Meet the Member: Rep. Jeff Denham

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke recently caught up with Rep. Jeff Denham, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to talk about prospects for an infrastructure bill in Congress.