We just finished the opening session of the ACI World/North America annual conference and exhibition. After the obligatory speeches from the leaders of the two organizations and our hosts, we heard a keynote speech by Dr. Alfred Kahn.
Dr. Kahn, as many know, was chair of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board when airline deregulation was enacted into law, 30 years ago this month. He talked about deregulation, what it has meant, and what we might think about as we move into the future.
Oh, by the way, Dr. Kahn is 91.
He had the room, filled with 1,200 airport leaders from around the world, in the palm of his hand. He talked about the fact that he turned the job down when first offered by President Carter, but finally took the post. What he accomplished was historic; he changed aviation around the world in a way that few have ever done, in any industry.
While some of the speech was focused on economics, landing charges and so forth, perhaps the most interesting part (to me anyway) was his discussion of the fact that energy prices back then had skyrocketed from $3 a barrel to $11 and the fact that congestion and capacity were then issues very much on the mind of policy makers and industry leaders alike.
This blog has addressed these facts before. Many of the problems and challenges facing the industry are nothing new. The fear that the industry will not recover is also nothing new. But I am convinced that our best days remain ahead, that we will regain our footing, that traffic will resume its upwards long term trend and that airports must be well-positioned when that happens. Anyone attending this global meeting would come away impressed and optimistic for the industry’s future — in all four corners of the earth.