It has been a while since I have written a blog. Partly this is due to the fact that I have been traveling almost constantly the past 6-7 weeks (Singapore, Sacramento, Chicago, Idaho and Italy). This is also due to the fact that the last 8-10 days I was actually on vacation and was determined to, more or less, treat it as such.
But now it is time to get back in the swing of things.
As mentioned, I was in Italy for almost two weeks. The first part of the trip had a business purpose, specifically the twice yearly meeting with ACI World Director General Angela Gittens and my colleagues who direct ACI’s four other regional offices. To be frank, this is a favorite part of the job for me. Angela and my regional director colleagues: Patti Chau, ACI-Asia/Pacific; Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe; Ali Tounsi, ACI Africa and Javier Martinez, ACI Latin America/Caribbean are among the brightest and most dedicated people with whom I have ever worked. When Montreal airport CEO Jim Cherry was chair of ACI World, his vision was that the World Director General and the regional directors would work more closely together to solve problems and promote airport interests. Twice a year, separate from anyone’s annual conference, we get together; taking turns hosting. It was Olivier’s turn and we attached our meeting to the Annual General Meeting of CANSO (the worldwide organization of air navigation service providers; we met with their regional directors as well). CANSO was meeting in Rome, the city in which Olivier lives. I suggested he arrange the Sistine Chapel for the meetings; alas this was not possible J .
When we have these meetings I am struck by how similar our problems are. Financial pressures, security, facilitation, environment (some more than others), air service and airline relations are always big topics. Not just in our work on behalf of members, but also in our individual and collective efforts to position our organizations (ACI World and the regional organizations are independent entities with a federal structure).
But I am also struck by how different our worlds are. Privatization and other innovative forms of airport ownership and operation are more the norm in most other regions; not so much on the U.S. side of the North American region. In Europe, airports are responsible for security and purchase the equipment, not so here. There are totally different ground-handling regimes. Political pressures on the environment are intense in many parts of the world; much more so than here. And so on. I tend to think we have the better of it on security and a few other areas. I also think that American ownership and governance structures are way out of date compared to others around the world. And you know how stupid and outdated I think our financial regulatory regime is here in the United States (if you’ve missed my comments on that topic go to www.airportsforthefuture.org). And, by the way, all of us complain that governments do not adequately understand the importance of aviation and airports to their economies (this is true too on both sides of the North American border).
In coming days I will write more about the rest of the trip.
But before I go, one final note. Ernest Borgnine, a great Italian-American, died last week at 95 years old. My first memories of him were from the show McHale’s Navy (which also introduced most of us to Tim Conway). But my life, more or less, intersected with his in two other ways (though I never met him). First, the night I was due to be born, my folks waited it out at a drive-in showing of the movie Marty, for which he won an Academy Award. I kept my folks waiting 10 more days. Second, a couple of years ago, my son attended the big Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. Borgnine was there, walked up to my son and his colleagues with a big smile and said “How’s it hangin, boys?” My son got the biggest kick out of that and so did I. Ernest Borgnine. RIP