ACI-NA Centerlines Live

Welcome to the Crossroads of Global Aviation for the World’s Largest Airport Event

We are excited to be here in Montréal with you! The 2016 ACI-NA / World Annual Conference brings all sectors of the airport industry together to provide airport decision-makers and their peers from around the world with insights on the latest trends and strategies that advance the industry. This year’s event is no exception.

Following our special opening session on leading in crisis, our conference keynote with CNN’s Peter Bergen, this year’s event includes access to innovative solutions in our sold-out exhibit hall, thought leadership sessions, panel discussions, and enhanced networking opportunities. The most important industry issues are on the agenda, including environmental protection, economic sustainability, doing business in a digital world, enhancing the passenger experience, promoting safety and security, and much more.

This year’s conference is very special, and we are excited to celebrate Airports Council International’s 25th anniversary as a global organization. ACI’s prominence as "the Voice of the World’s Airports" is essential to the growing role airports play in connecting people and businesses around the world. That message will be even more important as ICAO meets for its 39th Assembly this week in Montréal, ensuring that the civil aviation capital of the world will be abuzz with activity related to our industry.

We look forward to more engaging dialogue on ways we can enhance the work we do to provide a safe, efficient, and sustainable airport industry. 

Kindest regards,

Declan Collier, Chair ACI World and CEO, London City Airport 
Maureen Riley, Chair, ACI-NA and Executive Director, Salt Lake City Department of Airports



Paradies Lagardere
Telrad Networks
Sunday's Agenda at a Glance

7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.: WBP/Associate Member and Airport Director Roundtable Breakfast
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.: Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Keynote Address with CNN Analyst Peter Bergen
10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.: ACI-NA Downes Award Presentation
10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.: Airport Carbon Accreditation Recognition Ceremony
1:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.: Afternoon Sessions
5:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.: Chairs’ Handoff Reception
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.: Closing Night Event

Monday's Agenda at a Glance


APEX – The Community of Airports at Work 

The concurrent education session titled APEX – The Community of Airports at Worktook place yesterday during a busy first day of the 2016 ACI-NA / World Annual Conference and World Annual General Assembly in Montreal. Moderated by Dr. Yiannis Paraschis, CEO, Athens International Airport and former ACI World Chair, the session presented delegates an in-depth view of the benefits and future of ACI’s rapidly growing Airport Excellence (APEX) programme.

The programme, which started five years ago provides safety reviews to large and small airports based on ICAO standards and ACI best practices. These reviews are conducted by an international team of ACI Safety Partners, which are airports that provide expert volunteers for onsite reviews at host airports around the world.

Speakers on the session panel included Danny Boutin, Senior Manager, APEX Programmes, ACI World; Jennifer Sullivan, Director, Corporate Safety and Security, Greater Toronto Airport Authority; Nina Brooks, Head, Security, ACI World; and Richard Marchi, Senior Advisor, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ACI-NA.

A major theme of the session, expressed by Jennifer Sullivan, was how the APEX programme provides an unparrelled platform for comfortable engagement between host airports and safety partners for honest and deep dialogue on challenges and actions required in the area of operational safety. Additionally, the subject of the development of the APEX programme into other fields, such as security and environment were touched upon by Nina Brooks and Richard Marchi respectively.

The session began with Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World and Danny Boutin honouring the airports of Brussels, Edmonton, Mauritius, Quito and San Antonio with awards for their strong commitment and excellent work as ACI Safety Partners.

More information on the APEX programme, including how to request a safety review and/or become a safety partner can be found at

Tuesday's Agenda at a Glance

Strategic HR – Developing an Effective Airport Training Strategy

"Let’s stop looking at training," said a resolute Kevin Caron at the Strategic HR – Developing an Effective Airport Training Strategy session. Might seem like an odd way to address a room full of people waiting to hear about how they can improve the training strategies at their organization. But, alternate wording soon followed, and it began to make sense. "Let’s see it as learning and development," added the Head of Global Training and DNA at ACI World. Then, came the questions. What skillsets do we need in the future? And, more importantly, how many have a learning and development plan.

Just like a master plan, a learning and development plan is a necessity. "It is an investment, not a cost," said Caron. At Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a development plan is even required in all departments, said Gale LaRoche, Vice President of Human Resources. Part of their reasoning is they "want interns to have meaningful experiences with us, not just running for coffee." This requirement is just one of many that Detroit rolled out after an FAA audit revealed they needed a unified training system. Now they have performance incentives for about 85% of their workforce, development training, a Critical Leadership Academy, a Unified Talent Management program, Beyond the Job planning, and a Talent Pipeline. "Almost 100% of our employees participate (in the Talent Pipeline), though it was a slow go at first," said LaRouche.

"Developing employees has become a fundamental part of most of our businesses," said moderator Thella Bowens, President and CEO, San Diego County Airport Authority. The simple reason? "Unqualified and poorly trained employees equate to organization failure." But, how do you find the leaders in your midst – without the "help" of a crisis? "And how do you develop high potential talent that may exist in your organization?" asked Zack Deming, Principal, Korn Ferry.

"Intentional development is critical," said Deming. "There is no substitute for experience." The leadership development process he recommended was DIVA – Diverse, Intense, Varied and Adverse.

Roelof-Jan Steenstra, CEO of Fort McMurray International Airport, suggested something along those lines, but in the accreditation arena. The AAE (Accredited Airport Executive – North America) and IAP (International Airport Professional) designations were the ones he was referencing. "I absolutely believe they are worth the time and effort to complete." The pursuit of a designation comes back to lifelong learning, he explained. Mentoring and learning should happen at all levels of an organization, and with all ages. "If you want career stability, keep on learning!"

Wednesday's Agenda at a Glance

 Welcome Message from Minister Garneau /  ICAO – Why it Matters to Airports

Just prior to the start of Session 4A, Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World, had the pleasure of welcoming one of the conference’s most distinguished guests, Marc Garneau, the Canadian Minister of Transport. Minister Garneau began his career as a Naval Officer in the Canadian Forces, was the first Canadian in space in 1984, entered Parliament in 2008 and has been the Minister of Transport since November 2015.

At the podium, Minister Garneau highlighted the importance of the transportation industry, including airports, to the national economy and the policy priority it has become to the Government of Canada. Much like ACI’s mission of representing the interests of the world’s airports and the communities they serve, Garneau explained how "on the ground" feedback from airports, travelers, business communities and other stakeholders were responsible for shaping his vision and that of the Government.

Beginning the session as moderator, Gittens opened the panel, ICAO - Why it matters to airports, with a clear objective; to provide the audience with a better understanding of what the ICAO actually does, why it is important to airports and what should ACI and airport do to best ensure that ICAO meets their needs?

Gittens was joined by joined by Ambassador Jean-Benoit Leblanc from the Canadian permanent representation to ICAO; Ambassador Michael Lawson, from the US permanent representation to ICAO; and Mr. Bill Voss, who represents the US on the Air Navigation Commission.

The first panelist, Lawson, spoke about how the ICAO Council works from the point of view of the representative of countries. The second panelist, Leblanc, focused on the relationship between governments and ICAO. The third panelist, Voss, spoke about how the details are taken from experts around the world and how the ICAO internal machine works.

Pittsburgh's Cassotis Receives the ACI-NA Visionary Leadership Award

Session Highlight: The World Is Watching 

The impact a crisis can have on an airport was stamped into the eyes of everyone sitting in 517BC following the short CNN video that started off the Crisis Communication: The World Is Watching session that was held during General Session 1. It showed some of the initial coverage of these three catastrophic recent events: 

>March 8, 2014: Missing airplane at Malaysian Airline
>May 5, 2016: Wildfires at Fort McMurray International Airport
>March 22, 2016: Two explosions at Brussels Airport

"We live in a world wracked with crises at all times," said James Cherry, pausing for impact as the attendees absorbed the reality of the horror in the videos. "And airports are never immune to these events that could have a major impact on our operations."

But, while there are different types of crises - ranging from floods to fires to bombs - they all have one thing in common: "They are unpredictable," said Cherry. Almost as unpredictable is the information posted on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. "Almost everyone has a smartphone they can use to take a picture," said Cherry. "No filter." This causes confusion, especially in the beginning, in addition to giving every major crisis "a global dimension."

Communication, accurate communication, is an integral part of any crisis, however. "We know that crisis and communication go hand in hand," said Cherry.

Crises also require immediate action. "But, do you follow a plan or should you rely on your instincts?"

The leaders in this panel found out exactly how they would react to a crisis, as they are the leaders at the airports referenced in the video.

Tan Sri Bashir, Ahmad Abdul Majid, Malaysia Airports Holdings, said, "We don’t really want to talk about them. But they do happen." During the missing airplane crisis, communicating efficiently was paramount, but more difficult "especially as we don’t have as much control" in this area as we used to. "When an incident happens, the communication flow is no longer one way. Anybody and everybody can pass along the information. They can even create their own information... It becomes speculative. Everyone has a theory." 

Scott Clements, former President and CEO at Fort McMurray International Airport, went through a completely different kind of crisis, one with a face that he’ll never forget. "If you’ve ever been at the face of one of these things, it is hard to not get emotional," said Clements. During the May 2016 fire, the airport was "absolutely essential," said Clements. The Regional Emergency Control Center declared the airport an emergency asset. But it was "our high state of readiness and safety at the airport and in the region that were our keys to success," said Clements. "Plus, we kept the airport open 24 hours."

Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Company, had a crisis in the form of at least one suicide bomber and two explosions. "All the exercises we had performed in the past were effective. But the realities you just cannot see," said Feist. The airport reopened to full capacity within 72 days, but only because four principals were followed: teamwork/empowerment, a vision for everyone involved, stakeholder management and communication. "We hired some external resources to strengthen the team and ensure we could be available 24/7," said Feist. And one of the aspects that had to be taken into account at all times was the emotional one. "This is a story of human beings, heroes, people who have gone beyond their duties to save lives and to help other people out."

General Session 1 Highlights


 How Digital Is Transforming the Airport Industry

In this afternoon session on Monday, we were treated to a trinity of examples of the promise that digital can bring to the airport space and experience. The message was clear – whether big or small, your airport can really set itself apart, by embracing digital and other technology.

First up, Los Angles International (LAX) presented about extraordinarily visual immersive technology in place in its Tom Bradley Terminal. Even the most frequent travellers cannot help but be wowed by the artful creativity and dare we say it, surprise in evidence in the terminal. Customer satisfaction is up and the imaginative use of this immersive tech has redefined the passenger perception of LAX.

The second speaker, ACI Chair Declan Collier, outlined how his airport, London City Airport (LCY) has invested in heavily in digital technology over the past 5 years. The airport had 4.3 million well-heeled passengers last year and on Collier’s watch, it has partnered with a number of start-ups to generate more data, increase operational performance, customer service and passenger perception. The proof was in the presentation, with Collier speaking fluently with key figures on the specifics of gains in average processing time versus dwell time, some fine examples of customer service and much, much more.

The third and final speaker, Alexis Gardy from the consultancy Roland Berger, spelled out the intense competition between various players in the air transport supply chain and outlined the value of digital in the spheres of passenger journey, operational efficiency and retail & ancilliary revenues. Jacob also namechecked a number of up-and-coming start-ups and urged the audience to embrace digital, because data begets data, leading to more opportunities and a fresh wave of business angles.

Each of the three presenters had a big message in common – seize the opportunities new tech allows you – even if nobody else had done it yet.


Session Highlight: Sustainability's Competitive Edge – How Sustainability Strengthens The Airport-Airline Partnership

ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke gave a state of the industry address, highlighting a global approach for innovation in the 21st century, as we look ahead to the future. Read more >>

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Perspectives on Stakeholder Engagement and Climate Change Adaptation

"Do not be misled. The extremes in the weather are going to get worse. Period." This statement by Dr. Blair Feltmate, Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo, was a common theme during the Perspectives on Stakeholder Engagement and Climate Change Adaptation session. The four panelists and the moderator talked about how to prepare and adapt to the changing climate and the data used to reach certain conclusions.

"One of the core questions you have to ask is, ‘Adapting to what?’" said Blair. "Climate change is here to stay. It is irreversible."

According to Annie Petsonk, International Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund, the first step is to understand the forecast for your airport...It is hard to do these forecasts. People are skeptical. But understanding the forecast is important in anticipating changes."

So, how do you prepare for it and raise its importance level? "Priorities will vary greatly between airports. Nobody can tell an airport how to prioritize," said Rachel Burbridge, Environmental Policy Officer, Eurocontrol. "It has to be a local decision and based on resources."

When researching, also try reaching out to insurance companies. Blair mentioned that Intact Financial now has a full-time meteorologist that works with underwriters.

Also, due to its importance in planning for future risks, "the climate center has done extensive research on climate modeling," added Phillipe Lemire, Regional Director, Northern Transportation Office for the Transport Quebec. ACI chapters can help you access that information, as well. This type of information is important for infrastructure renovations, too, as "infrastructure that was designed for .5 inch of rainfall event is going to be completely inadequate" during torrential rainfalls that may be predicted for your area. "When you are building infrastructure, you want to take sure you are building it in such a way that is adapting to changes on the way 50 years down the road," added Blair.

Steve J. Grossman, CEO, Jacksonville Aviation Authority, who moderated the session, summed it up perfectly: "It is not, ‘How do we stop it?’ It is, "How do we deal with it?’"

From the Expo Hall

The exhibition hall has been a great success throughout the ACI-NA/World Annual Conference. Attendees can’t get enough!


Download the 2017 Conference Mobile App

To enhance your conference experience, we are excited to introduce the ACI-NA Conferences app! 

Available to all registered attendees, the ACI-NA Conferences app engages attendees and gives them the latest annual conference information on their smartphones and tablets. Search the participant list, connect with attendees, customize your agenda, and much more. This year’s mobile app is sponsored by The Hudson Group.

Get the app now by clicking on one of the links or search
"ACI-NA Conferences" in the App Store or Google Play.

Once downloaded, your login for the app is:
Username: Email used to register for the annual conference
Password: airports

Today's Aviation Headlines

Just because you're at a conference doesn't mean the world stops. This section will feature the latest industry news so you don't miss a beat while networking with old friends and new connections.

Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s $1bn operating budget receives approval: The US Miami-Dade board of county commissioners has approved Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s (MDAD) first $1bn operating budget, which will help with the expansion of Miami International Airport (MIA). Read more >>

Charleston’s revamped airport sets date for its formal debut: Four years after breaking ground on an ambitious $200 million overhaul of Charleston International, airport officials will officially rededicate the expanded terminal in a public ceremony Oct. 25 under the new dome in the Central Hall. Read more >>

New-look Prince Rupert Airport unveiled: Around 250 adults and children made the trek to the Prince Rupert Airport on Saturday to attend the grand opening of the newly renovated facility. Some of the work done at the airport includes an entirely new exterior, a new roof and ceiling, energy-efficient lighting, new windows and offices and an upgrade to the pre-boarding area. Read more>>

Bradley International Airport preps for Aer Lingus service to Dublin, hopes for more flights: Flights to Dublin begin Wednesday. They will be Bradley's first transatlantic flights since Northwest Airlines flew from Bradley to Amsterdam from June 2007 to September 2008. Read more >>

American Airlines adds first nonstop flight from Chicago to Spain: American Airlines is adding a new international destination — Barcelona, Spain — to its routes from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Read more >>

Spirit Airlines flight makes emergency landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport: A flight from Niagara Falls to Fort Lauderdale made an emergency landing early Monday morning at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after the pilot saw flames coming from the back of one of the plane’s engines. Read more >>

Uber using selfies as security measure: As ride-share services Uber X and Lyft prepare for operations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport under a new set of security regulations, Uber is rolling out a new security measure it has been testing in Atlanta and a few other cities — using selfies. Read more >>

JetBlue adds new cross-country route from Los Angeles: JetBlue is adding a new cross-country route. The airline announced Monday that it will begin flying nonstop between Los Angeles and Orlando on Jan. 5. Read more >>

Alaska, Virgin America agree to extend DOJ’s merger review period: Alaska Air Group and Virgin America have agreed to give the US Department of Justice (DOJ) additional time to review their proposed merger. Read more >>

International airline Xiamen Air comes to Sea-Tac airport: Xiamen Air is the latest carrier to serve Sea-Tac Airport with an international direct route. Seattle is the first U.S. destination for the airline, and the first passengers arrived aboard a 787 Dreamliner Monday morning. Read more >>

ROA adds waiting lot:A cell-phone lot is now available at the back end of the parking lot at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. Read more >>

American Airlines' new headquarters to bear name of CEO who oversaw expansion: American Airlines will name its new Fort Worth headquarters after former CEO Robert Crandall, the company's current CEO Doug Parker announced recently. Read more >> 

Thank You to the 2017 Annual Conference Sponsors
2017 Agenda Highlights

Check out the full 2016 ACI-NA/World Annual Conference/World Annual General Assembly agenda here

Breaking Down the Silos in Safety: Airports are complex operating environments involving multiple stakeholder groups--airlines, general aviation, ground handlers, terminal tenants, air navigation service providers and airport staff. Although safety is a top concern for all of these groups, in most cases each of them brings their corporate cultures, policies, procedures, training programs, and performance metrics with them to the airport. How can airport operators and their stakeholder partners work to break down these "silos" and make their safety programs more effective and holistic? In this session we’ll discuss some of the cross industry initiatives that key operator groups are undertaking to do this. 

Respond to New and Emerging Security Threats: In responding to dynamic security challenges, airports work on a daily basis in close coordination with regulators and security authorities such as TSA and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Considering the evolving threat environment, it is essential to leverage industry/government partnerships, work collaboratively and assess what countermeasures and technologies may be necessary to respond to threats while working to maximize efficiency. Innovation is critical given the unique geographic and operational differences between airports. This session will provide an opportunity to gain a global view from ICAO and talk directly with senior TSA and CATSA representatives about strategies to enhance the security of the aviation system.

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