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Passenger-centric approach needed to recover from COVID-19 impact, says aviation official
RIYADH: The global aviation industry needs to devise a passenger-centric approach to recover from the impact of the pandemic, according to Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director general 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 lost around 65 percent of its income as the world battled the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are an industry that represents around $200 billion in terms of revenue, and we lost around $120 billion in 2020. Last year, we lost around $80 billion,” de Oliveira said.
To mitigate the situation, de Oliveira insisted that all airports must pay more attention to the passenger and make his/her 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 that reached around 400 airports as well, globally speaking. We are pleased that we have four airports that are joining the program in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News.
The ACI is an organization of airport authorities that aims at unifying industry practices for airport standards.
Established in 1991, it is based in Montreal, Canada, and its members operate nearly 2,000 airports.
The official called for establishing a global ecosystem with unified practices aimed at passenger satisfaction and safety.
“We as an ecosystem need to work together to bring back the passengers. Basically, airports need passengers to be profitable. And to make the profitability, we need to work together as a whole ecosystem,” de Oliveira stressed.
The top executive underlined the need to close ranks and work together as an ecosystem, including the governments as well, to bring the industry back on track and reach the pre-pandemic level.
Call for privatization
“Let’s try together with privatization. Together with the programs like the Airport Service Quality model, we will be able to reach these 330 million passengers,” he told Arab News.
He said the industry should take measures to ensure the health and safety of travelers at airports. “We have the Airport Health Accreditation Program as well that will reach more than 500 members around the world, providing an accreditation that provides harmonization of the process around the world,” de Oliveira said.
According to the top executive, harmonization of procedures and health and safety protocols will allow travelers to use airports without the fear of contracting contagious diseases.
De Oliveria praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts in rallying for unified procedures in the industry.
The official said if unified protocols could be implemented at 500 airports following the International Civil Aviation Organization regulations, the practices could be replicated worldwide.
De Oliveira said his organization offers a platform to ensure the success of the harmonization process at all airports.
“We have the platform; we need just to make sure that all countries will take that seriously, and we implement that for the future.”
Focus on sustainability
De Oliveira said 2,000 airports from all across the world are members of his organization. These airports, he said, represent 96 percent of the 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 that announced last year in June its plans about ensuring net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“We need to help our airports to construct or build this roadmap, and we are working with our members to reach these net-zero carbon emissions (goal), that is our commitment for a green future of the world.”
De Oliveira argued that the right to continue to fly and to develop airports is nowadays linked with the concept of sustainability. He mentioned his organization’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program that aims to promote sustainable practices in the industry.
According to the official, around 400 airports are already members of the program that focuses on sustainability and environmental aspects.
He also underscored the importance of adopting the latest technologies in the sector to ensure safe and trouble-free travel.
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