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Published on : Thursday, December 3, 2015
Airports Council International’s (ACI) Investing in Airports – Economic Oversight and Regulation Conference in Delhi, India, organized in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), kicked off on Wednesday, 2 December 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 this morning 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, liberalized 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 globalized industry. Accompanied by liberalization 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—regulation that is administratively burdensome and unnecessarily costly,” Ms. Gittens continued. “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 [the forecast] growth in the years ahead,” stressed ICAO Secretary General 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,” Dr. Liu added. “It is almost certain that challenges will continue to exist, but none that cannot be overcome through concerted dialogue, partnership and action.”
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 privatized airports; and, the challenge of financing aeronautical infrastructure.
“There could be no better venue to engage in these conversations than India, an aviation market that is fast-growing and dynamic, and one in which the government has developed a range of methods to manage, govern and regulate its airport sector,” Ms. Gittens concluded. “Moreover, the discussions here will help us understand how economic regulation and oversight have evolved both in India, and also in emerging aviation markets across the globe.”
“An important goal of ICAO’s recently-completed World Aviation Forum was to foster new discussions and partnerships, so that we can jointly and substantially increase the amount of development funding presently being earmarked for aviation,” Secretary General Liu remarked. “Currently, only 2.6 per cent of annual global development financing supports aviation development objectives, and this is simply insufficient if our aim is to accommodate and manage future growth, safely and efficiently. Consistent with ICAO’s ongoing No Country Left Behind programme, it was also emphasized at the Forum that States must be duly assisted and financed in the coming years, so that aviation’s positive socio-economic benefits may be shared by all nations and all economies.”