Passenger and aircraft traffic resumes at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport
Passenger-centric approach needed to recover from impact of COVID-19, aviation official says
RIYADH: The global aviation industry must devise a passenger-centric approach to recover from the impact of the pandemic, according to Luis Felipe de Oliveira, chief executive of Canada-based Airports Council International World.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, de Oliveira said the sector had lost around 65% of its revenue as the world battled the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’re an industry that’s about $200 billion in revenue, and we lost about $120 billion in 2020. Last year we lost about $80 billion,” de Oliveira said.
To alleviate the situation, de Oliveira insisted that all airports must pay more attention to the passenger and make their life as comfortable as possible.
“What I would like to mention is that we as an industry need to focus on the passenger. We have the Airport Service Quality program which has also impacted around 400 airports globally. ‘to have four airports joining the program in Saudi Arabia,’ he told Arab News.
ACI is an organization of airport authorities that aims to unify industry practices in airport standards.
Founded in 1991, it is based in Montreal, Canada, and its members operate nearly 2,000 airports.
The official called for the establishment of a global ecosystem with unified practices aimed at passenger satisfaction and safety.
“As an ecosystem, we need to work together to bring passengers back. Basically, airports need passengers to be profitable. And to make it profitable, we have to work together as an entire ecosystem,” de Oliveira pointed out.
The top leader stressed the need to close ranks and work together as an ecosystem, including governments, to get the industry back on track and back to pre-pandemic levels.
Call for privatization
“Let’s try with privatization. With programs like the airport service quality model, we will be able to reach those 330 million passengers,” he told Arab News.
He said the industry should take steps to ensure the health and safety of travelers at airports. “We also have the Airport Health Accreditation Program which will reach over 500 members globally, providing accreditation that ensures harmonization of the process worldwide,” de Oliveira said.
According to the senior leader, the harmonization of health and safety procedures and protocols will allow travelers to use airports without fear of contracting contagious diseases.
De Oliveria hailed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to rally behind unified procedures in the industry.
The official said if unified protocols could be implemented at 500 airports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization regulations, the practices could be replicated around the world.
De Oliveira said his organization provides a platform to ensure the success of the harmonization process at all airports.
“We have the platform; we just need to make sure that all countries will take this seriously, and we will implement it for the future.
Focus on sustainability
De Oliveira said 2,000 airports around the world are members of his organization. These airports, he said, account for 96% of global traffic.
Fifty percent of all these member airports are part of the organization’s airport cabin accreditation program, he told Arab News.
“One thing that is important to mention is that we were the first international organization in the aviation sector to announce last year in June our plans to ensure net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“We need to help our airports build or build that roadmap, and we’re working with our members to achieve that net zero carbon emissions (goal), that’s our commitment to a green future for the world.”
De Oliveira argued that the right to continue flying and to develop airports today is linked to the concept of sustainability. He mentioned his organization’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program which aims to promote sustainable practices in the industry.
According to the official, around 400 airports are already members of the program focusing on sustainability and environmental aspects.
He also underlined the importance of adopting the latest technology in the industry to ensure a safe and trouble-free trip.