I’m writing this at Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport on the way to Accra, Ghana through JFK. I’ll be attending the ACI Africa annual meeting there. I will also be attending ACI World meetings that will occur there with my regional counterparts and ACI World’s new leader, Angela Gittens.
Angela once ran both the Atlanta and Miami airports. She is a true airport professional with worldwide respect. She took the job in April.
This will be the first time she will meet with the leaders of all 5 ACI regions. I am privileged to lead the North American (US and Canada) region. The other four are Africa, Europe, Latin America-Caribbean and Asia-Pacific.
It is a cliché that we work in a global industry but it is events like this that really show how global it is. All of our members are facing challenges caused by high fuel prices, airline finance issues and the like. We all face environmental issues, though the specific concerns might vary. Safety and security are paramount issues all around the world. Customer service is more important than ever, as airline financial and operational realities mean that airports must now tend to needs previously the province of airlines.
There are also challenges that carry costs for airlines and airports that cannot be deferred no matter how challenging the financial climate. Customer service is one. We must maintain our airfields and terminals, no matter how much service is cut. Security and safety, as already mentioned, are paramount.
I just attended the joint meeting we held with the Air Transport Association on deicing management. You can’t just deice some of the planes. And with new EPA rules on the way, this is a necessary cost that will rise (the fluid used is a petroleum based product, increasing the challenge). Airports all over the world are finding innovative ways to deal with all of these things.
I look forward to reporting in on our activities and the issues we face. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be in Ghana.