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Maseko - the history man

Posted 12 April 2018 · Add Comment

Airports of Mauritius (AML) “proudly and efficiently” hosted the 27th Airports Council International (ACI) Africa/World annual general assembly, conference and exhibition. Anuradha Deenapanray and Vincent Chappard report.

Bongani Maseko, CEO and executive director of the Airports Company South Africa, made history when he took over the chairmanship of ACI World from Declan Collier, CEO London City Airport.
It is the first time that a representative from Africa has occupied the chairman position.
“This shows that Africa is equally capable and confirms that the continent is making its mark at the global level,” said Maseko.
Collier will be a tough act to follow. Angela Gittens, director general, ACI World, made a point of praising him for his guidance.
The 27th ACI gathering coincided with the 50th anniversary of Air Mauritius.
“This conference is, therefore, a unique milestone and opportunity for our country to proudly showcase the progress achieved in the aviation sector,” said Pravind Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius. He added that “a bold vision” was the only way to enable Mauritius to play its role in a competitive environment.
More than 500 aviation professionals were gathered for this first ACI conference organised in the country.
The theme, bold leadership in time of change, reflected the trend over the past years. As Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the ICAO council pointed out, there’s a need “to confront and manage the challenges of sectorial growth together”.
Safety was one of the conference’s main themes.
Sharing the safety culture is crucial, stressed Charles Hanson Adu, deputy managing director, technical and operations, Ghana Airports Company. His organisation has invested substantially in training, the enhancement of professionalism, and the development of protocols and promotion policies.
As SV Arunachalam, general manager, daily operations at Bangalore International Airport rightly pointed out, safety brings efficiency. “To manage the complexities you should have an airport operation centre to manage capacity (zone-wise), predictability, punctuality and maintenance.”
As a technological and IT hub, India wants to collect proper data and manage it efficiently.
Through a case study presentation, Gilles Darriau, Abidjan International Airport CEO, reported how a review had provided a comprehensive gap analysis that set a path for the implementation of safety recommendations in line with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and the ACI best practices.
David Gamper, director, safety, technical and legal affairs, ACI World, addressed important airport challenges like capacity and navigation constraints, accommodating the new larger aircraft, impact operations and the link between airport design and traffic growth management.
Romesh Bhoyroo, AML CEO explained how leaders could foster a world class safety culture. For him safety was not a goal but a journey.
As Nina Brooks, head security, ACI World and Rishi Thakurdin, director safety, technical and legal, ACI Africa showed, the higher the level of compliance and investment, the bigger the benefits.
Panellists unanimously showed how safety was good for business, “an aspect sometimes neglected in institutional arrangements or when looking at safety budgets or business cases”.
At the dawn of a new era in civil aviation and with innovation in IT and new technologies, cyber security is becoming a growing threat. Global collaboration between governments and stakeholders should be strengthened, stated Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. He called upon the aviation community to reduce security threats, while enhancing customer service.
ACI has an IT security benchmarking tool to help airports tackle this “growing issue”.
Turning to innovation and IT trends, by 2020 almost all airports will have self-service activities. The trend is towards integrated, interactive and intelligent airports with emerging technologies and R&D-focused programmes.
ACI’s world business partners, from well-established to entrepreneurial start-ups, shared their in-depth understanding of daily demands and their expertise as solution providers tailored to the sector.
Catherine Mayer, VP, airport services, SITA, said that airport IT expenditure would be more than $8.4 billion in 2017 and that “technology and airport development go hand in hand”.
Pablo Reich, Arconas executive VP, closed the session by showcasing the new evolving airport terminal concept for a maximised passenger experience and enhanced comfort through technology integration. He estimated that, by 2040, 18% of travellers would be retired.
Every year around 600,000 individual surveys are carried out in 42 languages in 85 countries under the ASQ programme. It collects passenger views on 34 key performance indicators including airport access, check-in, security screening, cleanliness of restrooms, stores and restaurants etc.
ASQ awards were presented to the best airports as determined by their passengers in the survey. The awards are categorised to reflect and recognise the efforts of large and small airports in different regions. This year there were 91 winners, the largest group ever.
“These airports have dedicated themselves to deliver a stellar customer experience. Promoting a culture of continuous service improvement has become a matter of gaining competitive advantage and optimising non-aeronautical revenue performance,” said Gittens.
Non-aeronautical sources of income, which now represent 40% of total airport revenues, can ensure profitability and support airport development.
Tunde Oyekola, CEO El Mansour Group, spoke of new airport city concepts, whereby an efficient use and management of land around airports can bring high returns. For example, Denver Airport works with farmers.
The forum addressing this issue was an important component of the ACI conference, as many airports, especially in Africa, face funding problems. It enabled stakeholders involved in commercial activities to exchange knowledge on developing activities at African and international airports.
Zouhair Mohamed El Aoufir, ONDA (Morocco) CEO, showed how airport concessions could generate revenues to reinvest in modernisation and construction programmes.
There was much consensus on the need for private/public partnership.
Meanwhile, the conference also looked at connectivity, taxes and sustainable tourism.
Airline connectivity is crucial for large and small airports to serve communities, regions and countries.
As Toby Nicol, executive director, Uniting Travel underlined: “In an island economy, international connectivity is vital.”
The conference highlighted the importance of networking to maintain connectivity and sustain smaller airports in remote areas like Africa or India. Guruprasad Mohapatra, chairman Airports of India, explained the Indian Government’s policy to safeguard the national carrier’s interest in a very competitive environment.
Vijay Poonoosamy, CEO, Etihad Airways, raised the issue of open skies and protectionism.
Jacques Follain, deputy executive officer, Aéroports de Paris International, said that “when you open the skies it will give you more opportunities and help airport development. This will also enable your national airline to compete with others”.
The Mauritian Minister of Tourism, Anil Gayan, explained that with Mauritius being an island, there was a need to attract people from long distances. “We need a gradual opening of the skies to prevent too much competition and sustain our tourism sector.”
Panellists also showed how charges are often too fragmented. “In India, there’s a regulator to whom the operator goes before deciding the rate of charges,” said Mohapatra.
In Africa, like in other regions, connectivity affects trade and tourism. Therefore, an increase in taxes has a direct impact on traffic development.
Governments and stakeholders should therefore ensure “a fair process to enable the most common person to fly”.
The environment forum provided practical examples of how airports are managing new environmental challenges by investing in biofuels, data management, sound pollution, waste water management and wildlife protection.
It also released the airport carbon and emissions reporting tool (ACERT) version 5.0, initially developed by Transport Canada. It is distributed to airports free by ACI to help them manage their CO2 emissions and progressively plan their emission reduction targets. The tool is compatible with all levels of airport accreditation.
The 2018 ACI Africa Regional General Assembly, Conference & Exhibition will be held in Lagos, Nigeria.

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