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Over 850 airport and aviation leaders, experts and professionals as well as 60 exhibitors from across the globe have descended on Hong Kong for the 2019 ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly Conference & Exhibition (WAGA), which officially began today.

ACI Asia-Pacific president and CEO of Changi Airport Group, Lee Seow Hiang, got events under way by welcoming delegates to Hong Kong, outlining the importance of aviation to the region and highlighting some of the challenges and opportunities facing airports going forward.

He also noted that the event provides a unique opportunity to address and explore some of the challenges to ensure that aviation remains a key driver of local, regional and national economies in the years ahead.

“Asia-Pacific region has been a key driving force contributing to the world’s robust air traffic growth for the past decade,” he said.

“ACI forecasted that eight out of the top ten fastest growing countries for passengers in 2017-2040 are from Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. There is no one-size-fits all in how we manage, fund or invest in our airports. Recent trends point to privatisation as a way to finance much needed infrastructure investments as means to increase capacity.

“Amidst the anticipated growth and building capacity, we in the aviation industry, in co-operation and collaboration with government and stakeholders, need to provide a good passenger experience, keep the system safe, secure, efficient, economically and environmentally sustainable. It is important that we listen carefully to the needs of the communities that we all serve.”

He was followed by Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong, who told delegates more about the ambitious development plans to develop Hong Kong International Airport and its very own SKYCITY on 25 hectares of land surrounding the gateway.

Fellow keynote speaker, Martin Eurnekian, chair of ACI World, remarked: “In light of future air travel demand, this event provides aviation leaders and industry stakeholders the opportunity to put our heads together and to think critically and creatively about key topics.

“We will seek solutions including the task of accommodating growth, major developments in aircraft operations, resilience and adaptation to climate change, the customer experience revolution, new experiences in travel technologies, and innovations in security.”

In her welcome address to the attendees, Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said: “With our airport sitting right at the heart of the ‘double gateway’ connecting the Greater Bay Area at the one end and to the world at the other, Hong Kong offers seamless air-to-land and air-to-sea connections with a huge number of nearby destinations.

“It makes perfect sense to leverage on the unique advantage of our airport to foster a wider network of inter-related business activities. Indeed, our vision is to engineer our city’s airport to become an Aerotropolis with huge and high economic efficiency and diversified employment opportunities, so as to enhance Hong Kong’s position as an international business centre.

“The development of Aerotropolis is in line with worldwide trend, and we are embarking on various novel and exciting developments to make this happen.”

Dr Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO, highlighted the organisation’s close links with ACI, which she revealed have gone from strength to strength since ACI World move its HQ to Montréal. 

This is the first time HKIA has hosted such a prominent aviation event, which has demonstrated its leading status in the industry.

The ACI WAGA meeting brings together global industry leaders and representatives over the course of three days to vote on key decisions and assess future prospects.

Separate panel discussions are also organised to address topics such as capacity challenges, customer experience management and airport security.

The exhibition attracts representatives from international airports, civil aviation associations, technology enterprises, and other industry organisations and companies, serving as a valuable networking opportunity for professionals to exchange insights and learn about the latest trends and technologies.

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