“Post Tenebras Lux – Light after Darkness”

30th ACI EUROPE Annual Assembly & Congress, Brussels Airport Skyhall, 17 November 2020

The 30th ACI EUROPE Annual Assembly & Congress takes as its main theme “Post Tenebras Lux – Light after Darkness” and was streamed live from the Skyhall of Brussels Airport on 17 November. It was an event packed with deep-dive interviews, panel discussions and keynotes from C-Suite leaders and guest speakers.

In his State of the Industry address, Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE pointed out:

  • A new normal for airport trading conditions and operations, from increasing competition and ultra-low-cost airline dominance through to lower traffic growth and a reset towards sustainability, passenger health safety, digitalisation and social inclusion.
  • The drive to “build back better” has increased the industry’s determination to take the lead in building a more sustainable future. To underline this point, Jankovec announced the publication of a revised and even more ambitious ACI EUROPE Sustainability Strategy for Airports, which provides guidance to an industry determined to step up its efforts in embracing sustainability in all of its three components in the post-COVID era.

In his Keynote speech, Jost Lammers, President ACI EUROPE and CEO and President Munich Airport, acknowledged that emerging news of an effective vaccine gives reason for hope. However, the aviation sector cannot simply wait out the inevitable time challenges of safety confirmation and herd immunity. “We need another, immediate and interim solution to go through the winter and probably most of next summer. The solution lies in replacing quarantines for air travellers with testing. This is about doing better managing and reducing transmission risks – and saving livelihoods.”

Lammers called for a balanced approach to financial support for the aviation eco-system, highlighting ACI EUROPE’s proposals for a Recovery Framework for Aviation. He also highlighted the correlation between the need to financially support aviation through the COVID-19 crisis, and the need for aviation to decarbonise. The alignment of the aviation industry behind the proposal for an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation underpins this core pillar of future recovery.

The first panel debate focused on Survival Airport Economics. It was moderated by David Feldman, Managing Partner, Exambela Consulting, with panellists including Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport Company; Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport; Julian Diaz, CEO Dufry; John Holland-Kaye, CEO Heathrow Airport; Eleni Kaloyirou, CEO Hermes Airports; and Armando Brunini, CEO SEA Milan Airports.

The second panel discussion explored the future ways to rebuild connectivity with the change to the web of hubs and regional airports and basic and full airline services. Moderated by Andrew Charlton, Managing Director, Aviation Advocacy, the all-stakeholder panel featured Nicolas Notebaert, CEO VINCI Concessions & President VINCI Airports; Eamonn Brennan, Director General, EUROCONTROL; Patrick Ky, Executive Director, EASA; Václav Řehoř, Chairman of the Board, Václav Havel Airport Prague; and Céline Fornaro, Managing Director, Head of European Industrials Equity Research, UBS.

The third panel discussion was about Building Back Better. Moderated by Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability, Heathrow Airport, the panellists were Clara De La Torre, Deputy Director General, DG CLIMA, European Commission; Jonathon Counsell, Group Head of Sustainability, International Airlines Group (IAG); Florian Guillermet, Executive Director, SESAR Joint Undertaking; Dick Benschop, CEO Royal Schiphol Group; Christel Vandenhouten, Head of Sustainability, Brussels Airport; and William Todts, President, Transport & Environment.

There were also one-on-one interview sessions with:

  • Henrik Hololei, Director General, Directorate General Mobility & Transport (DG MOVE), European Commission
  • Debora MacKenzie, Science journalist and author of COVID-19 The pandemic that never should have happened, and how to stop the next one
  • József Váradi, CEO Wizz Air
  • Dalton Philips, CEO daa

The event was also the occasion to announce some key developments in the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, particularly the introduction of two new accreditation levels – Level 4 Transformation and Level 4+ Transition – and the announcement that Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in the United States and Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport in India are the first two airports that have become accredited at Level 4+ Transition.

16th ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards

As usual, ACI EUROPE celebrated its Best Airport Awards to recognise airports’ outstanding achievements. This year’s winners are:

Torino Airport (under 5 million passenger category)

Malta International Airport (5-10 million passengers category)

Hamburg Airport (10-25 million passengers category)

Lisbon Airport (25-40 million passengers category)

Aeroporti di Roma S.p.a (over 40 million passengers category)

Budapest Airport (Eco-Innovation Award)

Copenhagen Airport (Accessible Airport Award)

Istanbul Airport (Digital Transformation Award)

Malta International Airport (HR Excellence Award)

To70 B.V. (World Business Partners Recognition Award)

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