Earlier this week, ACI-North America cosponsored a seminar with ACI-LAC on air service data and planning. Airports from more than a dozen countries sent representatives and I am very appreciative of all the experts who took the time to come down and share their perspectives with the group.
As in the U.S. and Canada, air service development is a critical activity for airports in this region. Airlines make route decisions based on cold hard facts and analysis and the purpose of the seminar was to help airport officials access and use data in making their case to airlines.
By all accounts, the seminar was well-received and is an excellent example of the cooperation that occurs between and among ACI’s five regions.
I was also part of a panel with colleagues from around the world to discuss the current state of the industry in every corner of the world. Of course, this became a panel on the economy as the uncertain state of the economy over shadows all. There is a certain optimism down here as they feel poised for growth. Indeed, we are already seeing growth from the U.S. to this region, especially South America.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Panama Canal twice, once on a private tour with some colleagues (Sunday afternoon) and once with the conference attendees (Monday night). On Monday night in particular, we were fortunate enough to see several ships traverse the set of locks closest to the Pacific Ocean. When you see the beautiful, yet rugged, topography in the area you can see that it took a real visionary to conceive and complete the project. They are in the process of building new locks to increase the capacity of the canal. Whenever I drove along the Pacific coast I could see a line of ships waiting their turn. The economy might be down, but a massive amount of traffic continues to flow here.
There was a great deal of enthusiasm among the attendees here in Panama. Everyone knows what they are up against, but they are confident in their ability to persevere. I should also mention there was great interest in the U.S. election (to show what a small world it is, the Montreal airport director told me he followed the election returns closely — from Shanghai where it was 11 am when the election was called. The woman from the Bahamas — who is Canadian, by the way — told me she followed it from a meeting she was attending, in Bangkok! It is hard to overstate the degree of hope and optimism the election results have engendered around the world).
Have a great Thanksgiving!