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Digitally Connected Airports Conference

EUROCONTROL, in collaboration with ACI EUROPE, hosted a conference on 27 February focussed on meeting the capacity demand for 2030.

The conference was aimed at policy makers seeking to steer our industry, bringing together the C-suite of the aviation chain, including airline CEOs, airport CEOs, Directors General of Civil Aviation and other senior aviation industry representatives. ERA equally attended in order to gain an understanding of these stakeholders’ priorities and initiatives going forward.

ACI EUROPE’s Director General Olivier Jankovec opened the conference by calling for closer co-operation and effective operational integration between airports and ATM to boost performance and improve sustainability. Speaking at the event, Jankovec outlined the imperative for all players in the aviation ecosystem and for ANSPs in particular to pull together in managing and developing infrastructure capacity in the air and on the ground.

“In Europe, airports went through a major business transformation as governments have stepped back in favour of corporatisation and privatisation”, said Jankovec. “That transformation has clearly led airports to focus on operational efficiency and quality. This is as much about putting the passenger at the forefront of everything we do as making the most of our facilities. However, our efforts to achieve more efficiencies require ANSPs to work with airports in a more integrated manner. This means breaking existing operational silos – and finally getting ANSPs to get involved in and support APOCs.”

Jankovec concluded by stressing how these issues become even more relevant in the face of the climate emergency and airports’ drive to become more sustainable: “By adding even more pressure on the need for more operational efficiency, the climate emergency makes the case for airport and ATM integration a no-brainer. But beyond that, the EU’s climate objectives require an ambitious structural ATM reform that can achieve real de-fragmentation.”

The conference heard keynote interventions from a number of high-profile figures from across the aviation industry, including: Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI EUROPE; Henrik Hololei, Director General, DG MOVE; Grazia Vittadini, CTO, Airbus; Michael O’Leary, CEO, Ryanair Holdings; Jost Lammers, President and CEO, Munich Airport; Marc Houalla, Executive Director Group ADP & Managing Director, Paris CDG Airport; Birgit Otto, Executive Vice President and COO, Schiphol Group; Hemant Mistry, Director Global Airport Infrastructure & Fuel, IATA; Jonas Abrahamsson, President and CEO, Swedavia; Dalton Philips, CEO, Dublin Airport; Fiona Carleton, Director of Expansion Strategy and Future Operations, London Heathrow Airport; Ismail Polat, Chief Planning Officer, Istanbul Airport; Andrew Charlton, Managing Director, Aviation Advocacy; and Andrew Murphey, Manager Aviation, Transport & Environment.

Closing the conference, Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL also called for co-operation between all parts of the industry to unlock the capacity that will enable future development of airports. He said: “We need to be able to meet future demand through sustainable operations. We need airports to be fully connected with the rest of the European network. To achieve that, we need to integrate them digitally with the EUROCONTROL Network Manager. EUROCONTROL, ACI EUROPE, SESAR JU, along with airports, airlines, ANSPs and manufacturers, are now working together on this challenge to help meet the European Green Deal, whilst enabling airports to expand in the years ahead”.

He announced plans for the parties to collaborate and develop innovative sustainable airport solutions that can be deployed by all airports across Europe by 2023. He added: “With air traffic predicted to grow by around 48 per cent in the coming 20 years, it is crucially important that we harness the potential of digital connectivity to drive performance and change at airports and to enable an integrated European ATM network.”