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Director general and CEO, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, reflects on the first ever ACI World Committee Forum and the transformative power of technology.

Today, as I pen this editorial, top airport experts from around the globe converge in Montréal, the Civil Aviation Capital of the World, for the first-ever ACI World Committee Forum, a gathering of the best aviation minds to discuss issues and pioneer solutions that define the future of air travel.

The ACI World Committee Forum brings together over 300 members from ACI World’s six Standing Committees and their subgroups to discuss the most timely and relevant issues in airport accessibility, safety, security, environment and sustainability, and information and technology.

In addition, the Forum fosters heightened interaction between the committee experts and ICAO, underscoring the importance of airports in international civil aviation’s development.

Let’s focus on airport information and technology (and innovation!) – the most transformative and future-defining aspects of airport operations and the topic of this edition of Airport World.

Today, airports no longer rely solely on physical expansion and infrastructure development to meet the ever-growing demand for air travel. Instead, airports around the world, both large and small, are embracing innovation and rewriting their traditional growth strategies with digital ink. Airports globally – 93% of all airports, to be exact – collectively invest $6.8 billion in information and technology, and this number will continue to grow exponentially.

Technology is orchestrating all aspects of airport operations from biometric check-in, contactless journeys, and automated baggage handling to real-time data analytics and advanced cybersecurity systems. These technological advancements are not just about operational efficiency; they’re about creating a more enjoyable and stress-free travel experience for passengers.

Other initiatives that have already gained momentum focus on the alignment of sustainability and technology. Airports are adopting green practices across their operations and investing in renewable energy sources. This fusion of sustainability and technology is transforming the aviation landscape, propelling us closer to the ambitious goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

I am proud to report that discussions on the most pressing issues and challenges are taking place right now amongst the world’s top airport CIOs; members of ACI World Information Technology Committee. Together with ACI World experts, they play a crucial role in providing the organisation with guidance on policy issues, strategic direction, and priorities. What’s more, they develop timely resources that reflect the needs of the organisation’s airport members.

A recent example of the latter includes our close collaboration with Microsoft, where we are helping airports facilitate faster, seamless, more punctual journeys with the help of next-generation 5G connectivity. I invite you all to access the Private Wireless Networks – eBook for airport operators to explore the transformative potential of PWNs.

ACI World also continues to work closely with ICAO across many information and technology areas – notably on matters of cybersecurity, leading tabletop exercises and supporting States in their efforts to become cybersecure. This is an on-going supportive measure to ensure that the industry remains resilient in the technological era that is placing more and more focus on systems and IT solutions.

In fact, earlier in 2023, ACI World launched the APEX in Cybersecurity Assessment programme, designed to help airports of all sizes evaluate their cybersecurity landscape comprehensively. The first ever review of its kind took place at Piarco International Airport, located in the vibrant city of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

Our work also involves close collaboration with international partners, such as ensuring that data connectivity remains a top priority across the industry with a standardized format. ICAO and IATA are both supportive of common standards within the industry, utilising ACI’s Aviation Community Recommended Information Services (ACRIS) platform where appropriate.

As reflected in this issue, there is no doubt that information technology and innovation is our future. From airports to aviation stakeholder partners around the world, it is evident that innovation is a driving force behind change. Let us supercharge it together with the power of our collective minds and efforts.

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