State of the Industry “A Global Approach for the 21st Century” Remarks by Kevin M. Burke

Introduction

Welcome to Montreal for the 2016 Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) / World Annual Conference and World Annual General Assembly. 

As we say each year, this conference serves as an annual forum for airport leaders and our valued associate members to come together and discuss ways to improve operational efficiency through new approaches, best practices, and innovative solutions.  This year is no exception. 

I am thrilled to announce this year’s conference – presented jointly with our colleagues from ACI World – is the world’s largest “for airports, by airports” event ever with more than 2,200 attendees.  With your attendance this year, you have helped us break the record we set back in 2008 in Boston.  Additionally, our sold-out exhibit hall is the largest in ACI-NA’s history with 263 booths sold.   None of this would be possible without the strong support of our sponsors and exhibitors who find value in supporting this conference each year. 

Thank you, Jim and the team at Aéroports de Montréal, for your incredible leadership as our host this year.  And to our friends at Fort Worth, we look forward to smashing this record next year when we travel to your fine city for our 2017 annual conference.

Global Connections for Global Solutions

This year’s conference agenda is unlike any agenda you will see at any other airport conference.  Of course, our agenda will examine the issues you would expect, like enhancing the passenger experience, leveraging public private partnerships, and improving collaboration when it comes to safety and security.  But during these valuable sessions, you will have the unique opportunity to hear how your colleagues from around the world are addressing similar challenges. 

In fact, our global focus this year brings together airports from 50 countries to discuss the common challenges you all face on a daily basis. 

More and more, our industry issues are not isolated to one airport, one country, or one continent.  Our ability to bring airports together like this is because of ACI-NA’s global connection through ACI World and its five partner regions that work collaboratively to advance airport industry priorities on a global scale.  We must solve these challenges together, learning from each other along the way.  As ACI World celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, our global connections are only growing stronger as we continue to look outside our own borders to create best practices and develop policy solutions, especially in challenging areas like the environment, security, and passenger facilitation.   

Our Commitment to Industry Priorities

Your team in Washington and Ottawa is continually increasing our efforts to provide our members with forward-thinking advocacy and needed intelligence for the benefit of our members, communities and the passengers who travel through your airports every day. 

As one of the biggest challenges facing airports around the world, modernizing airport infrastructure remains a top priority for ACI-NA. 

In Canada, the Canadian Airports Council continues to work diligently to educate policymakers and the public about the importance of Canada’s airports to Canada and the need for airport infrastructure investment to assist airports large and small.  The Canadian Airports Council is also working to educate the new Trudeau government and key policy makers about airport priorities and policy concerns stemming from recommendations from the Canada Transportation Act review. 

In the United States, we have made tremendous progress this year in our efforts to provide airports with the tools they need to fund essential airport infrastructure needs, like modernizing the Passenger Facility Charge user fee as part of Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.  While we have much more work ahead of us to realize our goals over the next year, ACI-NA remains fully committed seeking a long-term, self-sustaining solution to airport infrastructure needs. 

I have heard from industry colleagues – even some in this room – who have said our efforts are in vain and that we will not win out at the end of the day; that there is no hope to modernize the PFC to help airports prepare for the future.  To those individuals, we are not an association that accepts defeat.  We are not an association that settles for the status quo.  We are not an association that backs down because something is too difficult.  We are an association that works tirelessly, aggressively, and relentlessly for our members, communities, and passengers. 

At the same time, our success depends entirely on an engaged membership that sees industry-wide benefit in sharing their perspectives during important policy discussions.  Many airports have taken their needs to Capitol Hill or shared how a modernized PFC benefits passengers and their communities.  We need more airports to join the narrative on why airport infrastructure matters.

Innovation and Intelligence for 21st Century Airports

Collaboration is a top priority for North American airports. ACI-NA’s leadership and knowledge is driven by engaged members who seek a robust forum for dynamic collaboration and the development of industry excellence.

Over the last three years, we have created new tools and resources to keep our members ahead of the curve, like our industry guidance resources on unmanned aircraft systems, concessions management, and ride-booking apps.  We have strengthened our valuable industry benchmarking surveys covering finance, concessions, and the environment, and we are currently collecting data to for our re-imagined Guest Experience Management and Passenger Amenities Survey.  Through these resources, ACI-NA is able to provide our members with intelligence to make informed decisions quickly. 

Launched two years ago through our partnership with Airside Mobile and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our Mobile Passport Control app was designed to facilitate fast and efficient entry into the United States while maintaining the highest security standards.  Earlier this week, we marked a major milestone with the continued expansion of our Mobile Passport Control app.

Now with more than one million downloads, passengers are taking advantage of this time saving technology to get through customs faster.  As soon as this conference adjourns, our team will head to Houston to congratulate our 20th airport member to offer Mobile Passport as another option to enhance the passenger experience. 

Mobile Passport and its success exemplify the value of a trade association like ACI-NA and the role we play in building partnerships to advance the industry.  Through our work on Mobile Passport, ACI-NA’s relationship with CBP has never been stronger, and it’s expanding to other government agencies that look to ACI-NA as a solutions provider.  This is good news for our members that look to ACI-NA to solve the significant passenger facilitation issues they face each day. 

Earlier this year at our Business of Airports Conference, ACI-NA launched the next innovative tool to assist our members understand the complex financial landscape in which they operate.  In partnership with Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, we launched Centerlines Finance, our mobile app that provides airports with key financial indicators that can benchmark their performance alongside their peer airports.  The app also provides users with the ability to manipulate and share data to help make sound financial planning decisions. 

We are delighted that both of our innovations are featured on the show floor at the ACI-NA booth.  Please stop by later today and learn more about how these tools are improving operational efficiency. 

Looking Toward Tomorrow

15 years ago – when ACI-NA held this same meeting in this same city – the world changed forever.  We are now charged with constantly assessing complex security issues and responding to ever changing threats in order to keep our passengers secure.  We recognized this when we invited the speakers for the session following this opening ceremony as well as Peter Bergen, our keynote speaker tomorrow.  Their insights will assist as we continuously look beyond the horizon to be prepared to respond to new issues as they emerge. 

The active participation of our members is what drives our team’s effectiveness in Washington and Ottawa and our ability to deliver quality intelligence to help position North American airports to stay ahead of tomorrow’s challenges.  

In February, we initiated our Challenge 2025 Initiative as a way to better understand the issues airports expect to face over the next decade.  Through member-driven task forces, each group is focusing on one of five challenges, including air service development, workforce planning, the evolving airport business model, security and facilitation, and airport infrastructure.  These groups have made tremendous progress in identifying a path forward that will guide ACI-NA’s mission over the next decade. 

These core challenges are not limited exclusively to U.S. or Canadian airports.  Every airport around the world is preparing to face these challenges in the years ahead.  The conversations we engage in over the next two days and the ideas we hear will provide a needed global perspective as look toward the challenges that exist beyond the horizon. 

This is where your association thrives when delivering value for our members.  Working together, we can ensure a competitive and progressive airport industry that serves to benefit your communities and your passengers.

Thank you.

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About ACI-NA

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) represents local, regional, and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 95 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America.  Approximately 380 aviation-related businesses are also members of ACI-NA, providing goods and services to airports.  Collectively, U.S. airports employ more than 1.3 million people and account for $1.2 trillion in economic activity—or seven percent of the total U.S. workforce and eight percent of GDP.  Canadian airports support 405,000 jobs and contribute C$35 billion to Canada’s GDP. Learn more at www.aci-na.org.