Speeches

Introductory Panel Towards a Global Vision of Sustainable Air Transport, Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World - 18/04/2012

Good morning. I’m delighted to provide a short overview of the airport perspective on sustainability.

As the Brundtland Report suggests, if we are to cater to the needs of both present and future generations, airports need to continue to grow.

The key elements of growth, sustainability and its 3 pillars, the environment, society and the economy, underpin the concept of permission to grow. Global society needs to decide to what extent it wants the social and economic benefits of air transport, and the aviation industry needs to demonstrate on-going environmental stewardship. Arguably, it is global society and the international community that need to give aviation permission to grow.

For this permission, the aviation industry has focused on the global issue of climate change and CO2 emissions. The industry has set out its well-known CO2 Roadmap based on aircraft technology, system efficiency, market-based measures and sustainable biofuels.

ACI has demonstrated its commitment with ACI Europe’s Airport Carbon Accreditation Programme. As of January 2012, 55 airports, serving 52% of European passenger traffic are now accredited. The program has now extended to the Asia Pacific region and will continue to grow worldwide.

But airports must also focus on local issues such as community concerns regarding noise, air quality, water, waste and land use because permission to grow for airports comes from local governments and local communities. Major infrastructure projects at airports need permits issued by local governments. Aircraft noise is often the main obstruction to obtaining permission to grow; as we have seen just recently, adverse community reaction to aircraft noise can lead to operational restrictions and curfews; and curfews in one region can lead to problems in another regions. ICAO cannot take its eye off of the noise issue.
Let me move on to economic and financial sustainability.

According to ACI’s 2011 economic survey, some 135 billion $US in capital expenditure are planned at airports worldwide between 2013 and 2016, not including the current projects in the middle east and it only includes two airports in mainland China.
 
An increasing number of countries are calling on the private sector for the development of aeronautical infrastructure, be in the form of outright privatizations or public private partnerships. This necessarily implies the need for states to provide the right economic regulatory framework to allow airport companies to generate the type of financial returns required to attract private investors.
ACI has forecast worldwide passenger traffic to almost double between now and 2029; that is from over 5 billion today to 11 billion. But in Asia, traffic will almost triple. This means that the need for airport infrastructure in Asia is urgent. In fact, by 2030 Asia will be the world’s largest aviation region.

However, it may not be possible to meet this growth by simply laying down more concrete at airports. Therefore, it is important to make more intelligent use of the infrastructure already in place; this will take the collaboration and cooperation of the different stakeholders in air transport: industry, government, regulators and NGOs.

ICAO can help by providing states with guidance for the development of regulatory frameworks that recognize the new reality in which airports operate and the social need and demand for access to air transportation. The progressive liberalization of the air transport industry has resulted in an increasingly competitive international airport environment. The majority of airports worldwide operate at a loss since they don’t have the critical traffic mass to generate sufficient revenue to cover operating costs but their communities depend on them for economic vitality.

As we move forward in the next three days, let us all keep in mind that the aviation industry is a system: no part can sustain itself without the others.
 
Before I hand over to the next speaker, I would like to take a few seconds to formally present ICAO with a declaration from the industry.

Last month in Geneva, the leaders of the aviation industry met under the banner of the air transport action group. The Sixth Aviation and Environment Summit brought together all parts of the industry—airports, airlines, air traffic control and manufacturers—to build a strategy for sustainable aviation at a global level.

We are sending a statement to governments meeting here at ICAO and at Rio+20.

We want to do our part to maintain and grow a vibrant, sustainable air transport sector.

We want to continue to create millions of jobs and support trade and tourism.

To do our part to help economies grow and lift people out of poverty.

To provide lifelines to communities all over the world.

To do so in an increasingly efficient way, in line with our industry emissions reduction targets.

And we stand ready to work with governments to achieve these aims.

So, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Air Transport Action Group, we would like to take this opportunity to present the ICAO Secretariat with the declaration signed by the Directors General of ACI, CANSO, IATA and ICCAIA and the CEOs of Airbus, Boeing, ATR, Bombardier, Embraer, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell Aerospace, CFM and Rolls-Royce.

Copies are available in your delegate bag, but we wanted to ensure President Kobeh and Secretary General Benjamin, that you had an extra-large version as a daily reminder of the industry’s commitment. And we thank you for your leadership.