AIRPORT WORLD 2024, ISSUE 03

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Airport profile: Denver

Special report: WAGA review

Plus: Airport anniversaries, Sustainability & ACI news

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Editor, Joe Bates, reflects on the recent ACI World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition (WAGA) in Riyadh and the ‘IT innovation’ theme of this issue of Airport World.

It was nice to be ‘on the road again’ and in Riyadh for May’s ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East/ACI World Annual General Assembly, Conference and Exhibition (WAGA), and the event certainly didn’t disappoint

More than 700 delegates and 30 exhibitors from 70 countries were in Saudi Arabia for the event, and arguably for the first time since 2019, the mood was upbeat about the future, with most airports back on track after COVID and some even experiencing record passenger numbers.

As you would expect, the potential operational, safety, customer service and economic benefits of new technology and IT innovation going forward were touched upon numerous times during the event.

Indeed, talking about the need to create airports that are “super resilient, super efficient and super sustainable” in his opening address, ACI World director general and CEO, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “Technology will play an important element in getting us where we want to go.

“Traffic will double by 2044, yet we won’t be able to double our infrastructure or our workforce. We can’t be resilient, we can’t be efficient and we can’t be sustainable unless we build the airports of tomorrow on the framework of technology.”

His thoughts on the importance of technology were echoed throughout the event, starting with Riyadh Air CEO, Tony Douglas, who said his airline would be a digital native, and ending with a debate on how technology is helping airports enhance the passenger experience and mitigate aviation’s impact on the environment.

You can read all about WAGA24 in our comprehensive review of the event on pages 34 to 41 of in this issue, but suffice to say that some of the new technologies mentioned in Riyadh are covered in the ‘IT innovation’ themed section of this issue.

The themed pages, however, begin with an exclusive feature from academic and developer of the aerotropolis concept, Dr John Kasarda, about how advances in artificial intelligence are transforming airports and airport cities.

It also contains features about Aeroporti di Roma’s innovation strategy; key technology investment trends; how smart technology is enhancing the passenger experience and operational efficiency; and we consider the role technology could play in helping airports cope with rising temperatures and extreme weather events.

Our main airport feature shines the spotlight on Denver International Airport and CEO, Phil Washington, who tells us more about the growth and development of his airport and its bold ambition to become the ‘greenest’ airport on the planet.

Elsewhere in this issue, we talk birthdays by showcasing a number of airports celebrating milestone anniversaries this year; consider that airports might need to adapt to accommodating multiple types of clean fuel for the industry to achieve net zero carbon emissions; address human innovation in our regular ‘people matters’ column; and report on the latest news from ACI and ACI’s World Business Partners (WBP).

I want, however, to end with a final reflection on WAGA24 as the event was the final one to be held under the leadership of Luis Felipe de Oliveira who is leaving for pastures new ahead of his successor, Justin Erbacci, coming onboard in September.

He signed off his opening day address by noting: “As you may know, this is my last WAGA, and my time of service is coming to an end. It has been an honour to serve the membership and the aviation industry as I truly believe that it is a force for good.

“The past four years at ACI World have been memorable, and our achievements are the collective work of the entire ACI World team. It goes without saying that I will really miss you, my colleagues, and the work we have done together. I will continue to support the sustainable growth of the sector, which I know we will achieve, as I believe in this industry, and when we work together as an industry, there is nothing we cannot achieve.”

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