Building on the successes of 2022


22 December 2022



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ACI World Director General, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, tells International Airport Review how 2023 will see ACI working with its member airports to move the industry forward, to benefit both travellers and communities.

As we soon welcome a new year, many of our sector’s priorities will build on the successes of 2022 – a particularly productive year for ACI World and its member airports. Among other things, these priorities will include working towards our climate goal, developing aviation’s workforce, investing in infrastructure, implementing new technologies and evolving in-step with passenger expectations. We will need to work efficiently and collaboratively if we are to maximise aviation’s social and economic benefits to their full potential in a sustainable manner. After all, under our current projection, global passenger traffic is expected to reach 2019 levels in late 2023, with the full-year recovery to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. Looking to the longer-term, we project that passenger traffic will reach close to 18 billion globally by 2040.

Working towards our climate goal

Perhaps the largest milestone of the year took place in October at the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 41st Assembly when the entire aviation community welcomed an agreement by governments to a long‑term goal of net zero carbon emissions for international aviation by 2050.

This is in line with the Paris Agreement and the industry’s own climate goal.

While this is a major achievement that brings governments and industry in alignment, ACI World is cognisant of the challenges airports face in reaching this goal despite their long‑standing dedication to lowering their carbon footprint. A key advocacy priority will now be to encourage and influence regulators to support airports’ work to develop and implement their decarbonisation action plans; strengthen collaboration among all stakeholders to increase the availability of renewable energy; and finance new technologies to support capacity building and to address operational and infrastructure adaptations.

Investing in infrastructure

Indeed, investment in existing and new infrastructure to meet growing air travel demand has long been a priority but has been magnified with the economic impact of COVID-19 on the health of the airport business. Fundamentally, airports will remain infrastructure-intensive businesses for the foreseeable future, and this translates into unavoidable high fixed costs that must be financed.

Financing and best using this infrastructure is crucial to meeting the increasing demand and reaching our sustainability goals.

Extensive research by ACI World and InterVISTAS has demonstrated the critical need to modernise global policy frameworks on airport charges towards ones that incentivise sustainability, efficiency, investment in infrastructure, and that generate a multiplier of socio‑economic benefits and connectivity. In consideration of the changed competitive landscape, it is critical that airport charging policies be focused on market needs and signals, and that the best way forward for the benefit of the travelling public and local communities, is through commercial agreements between airports and airlines.

Developing aviation’s workforce

Capacity building and meeting climate goals also entails building the expertise needed to sustain the aviation ecosystem. As many of you know, the faster than expected recovery this year came with growing pains – namely workforce challenges – experienced by many service industries but felt strongly by aviation, particularly during the northern hemisphere’s summer travel season.

ACI World has been focusing on this topic through cross-industry advocacy and the development of timely guidance for our members such as the development of the Evolution of the Airport Workforce Whitepaper. A key priority going forward will be for industry, regulators and educational institutes to work together to attract, retain and invest in a skilled workforce that cuts across all areas of the aviation ecosystem – this will be crucial for both the short- and long-term sustainability of air travel.

Evolving in-step with passenger expectations

As we fully recover from the effects of the pandemic, we are also attuned to the many changes it has brought to traveller behaviours and expectations, as well as the responsibility we have as service providers to listen and respond to these changes. For a third year running, ACI World released the ASQ 2022 Global Traveller Survey report that provides an in-depth update on the evolution of the passenger perspective and behaviours. The report reveals the highest intention to travel since the beginning of the pandemic and important areas to strengthen, such as heightened cleanliness and the implementation of contactless technology.

Many of you are aware of the Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) programme that supported airports during the pandemic, and which will continue to help airports in 2023. However, as we move into the future, we’ve widened the programme’s scope with the launch of the new Public Health & Safety Readiness Accreditation programme to help airports adapt their measures and operations to be better prepared for unforeseen crises. The assessment evaluates how aligned airports’ public health and safety measures are with the ACI Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) recommendations, along with other industry best practices.

And as more and more people take to the skies and with populations aging, we must all make accessibility and inclusion a priority – not because it makes business sense, but also because it is the right thing to do. In line with our advocacy on the matter, ACI World launched the new Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation programme as a continuous path of improvement for airports in the area of accessibility for passengers with disabilities. It was developed with inputs from airport members, industry partners and accessibility advocacy groups, and is based on existing international best practices and recommendations. The programme also received support from ICAO.

Looking forward

We had another challenging year but our numerous victories in 2022 – that go well beyond those mentioned here – are allowing us to begin the new year on the right foot. We have much to accomplish in the near- and long-term and the onus is on us, as an industry, to pave the way forward for the benefit of travellers and communities. At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to stress the importance of collaboration which has brought us up until this point. It is only by partnering with industry partners, regulators and other stakeholders that we can flourish into a sustainable aviation ecosystem. As always, ACI World will continue to work as a unifying voice for our members, the voice of the world’s airports. We look forward to continuing this in the year ahead.


Luis Felipe de Oliveira joined ACI World as Director General in June 2020, bringing with him vast experience in commercial and technical aviation.

He successfully led the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) between October 2017 and May 2020, promoting positive change in the organisation. Prior to joining ALTA, de Oliveira served as World Fuel Services’ Vice President Supply Development for Latin America and Caribbean where he was responsible for improving World Fuel’s aviation fuel business in the region.
For 10 years, de Oliveira served IATA, leading fuel and airport campaigns with governments, oil companies, fuel service providers and airports for the Americas, Africa and the Middle East regions, based in Switzerland. He also served 12 years at Shell with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa and Europe, based in the Netherlands.

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