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Aviation stakeholders meet to ensure sustainable growth of airports

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ETW StaffMumbai

Airports Council International’s (ACI) Economic Oversight and Regulation Conference in Delhi, organised in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), kicked off on December 2 with pre-conference seminars covering the fundamentals of economic oversight and regulation, ICAO’s policies on charges for airports and air navigation service providers, and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Delegates heard Dr Fang Liu, secretary general of ICAO, and Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World speak at the conference opening on the importance of the event for airports in India and worldwide; the forecast growth in passenger numbers over the next 15 years; and the resultant need for a transparent and light-touch regulatory regime that encourages private investment in airports.

“A modern, liberalised aviation system is not only ‘young’ in India, but is also maturing worldwide,” noted Angela Gittens in her opening address. “In the US, it was just 37 years ago that the Airline Deregulation Act was passed, beginning the wave of airline deregulation that quickly spread across much of this globalised industry. Accompanied by liberalisation of air traffic rights, improvements in aircraft technology and growing economies and middle classes, the conditions were present for today’s vibrant and worldwide interconnected aviation industry.”

“In contrast, many airports are still subject to haphazard and heavy-handed regulation that is administratively burdensome and unnecessarily costly,” Gittens said, adding, “Empowering public and private airports to be more commercially oriented is the next step in building a successful industry. We need to take this step.”

“It is essential that states prepare today to reap the full benefits of growth in the years ahead,” stressed Dr Liu in her keynote address. “Financing airport infrastructure is difficult for some states and poses potential risks to the sustainable economic development of their air transport sectors. The aviation industry has the ability to make substantial progress towards implementing United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 9, particularly Target 9.1, which calls for the development of infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all. It is almost certain that challenges will continue to exist, but none that cannot be overcome through concerted dialogue, partnership and action,” she added.

Topics to be discussed over the remaining day and a half of the conference include the views of stakeholders regarding economic oversight and regulation, assessing the benefits and limitations of airport economic oversight and regulation, the international regulatory experience from the perspective of public and privatised airports, and the challenge of financing aeronautical infrastructure.

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