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ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, considers how innovation continues to make passenger journeys easier and enhance the sustainability of airports.

Airports have come a long way since their inception, with innovation leading many of the changes that have transformed them from transport hubs into destinations in their own right.

Innovation has been the driving force behind transforming airports into more efficient, enjoyable, and sustainable spaces for the world’s travelling public.

Perhaps one of the most notable innovations in recent years has been the introduction of biometric technology, which has streamlined security checks and boarding processes – extensively covered in the previous edition of Airport World. Or the integration of blockchain technology to enhance security, greater transparency, instant traceability, increased efficiency, and automation.

Another significant innovation has been the proliferation of smart technology to enhance the passenger experience, such real-time information on flights, weather, and airport amenities. Most airports now offer mobile apps that allow passengers to book parking, order food, and take advantage of other duty-free amenities that are constantly evolving.

Sustainability is another area where airports are innovating. Many airports are implementing green initiatives such as using renewable energy sources, reducing waste, and implementing water conservation measures.

From investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, to smaller initiatives such as introducing green spaces and gardens into airport design, airports are leveraging innovation to build a long-term transport system and a more pleasant environment for passengers.

In support of our members, ACI’s approach to innovation cuts across all areas of the airport business. Reflective of this prioritisation, ACI World together with ACI Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and ACI EUROPE, are launching a new event dedicated to capturing the markable innovations that are transforming airports and the future of air travel.

For the first time, Airports Innovate – a dynamic think tank – will be held from November 20-22, in Muscat, Oman, and generously hosted by Oman Airports. Together we have crafted an exceptional programme with the aim of seeking out-of-the-box ideas from the world’s leading experts, visionaries, and innovators.

It is an exceptional opportunity to gain insights in airport business, design, technology, and innovation, and a must-attend event for anyone looking to stay at the forefront of change and be part of shaping the aviation ecosystem.

Just ahead of the event, we will also for the fourth year running, open the 2024 edition of the ACI World-Amadeus Technology Innovation Awards, which highlight cutting edge initiatives and leadership by airports that improve the operation or increase efficiency in a rapidly changing environment.

Airport members of ACI will soon be invited to submit their candidacy in one of three categories:
• Best innovation(s) in airport passenger related processes
• Best innovation(s) in airport operations and installations management
• Best airport innovation leader (individual)

Another growing area of innovation is what’s known as the Twin Transition, a concept that bridges the agendas of digitisation and sustainability. It focuses on greening technology and data assets to reduce energy consumption and associated emissions (referred to as Greening of IT).

It also harnesses the potential of technology and data to accelerate the achievement of sustainability goals (referred to as Greening by IT). For example, this involves using the Internet of Things to optimise the heating and cooling of airport buildings.

I’m pleased to report that ACI World has joined forces with Royal Schiphol Group, and PA Consulting as a collaborative task force, to develop practical guidance to assist airports in integrating digital and sustainability priorities into their strategies.

Both the Twin Transition Playbook and White Paper are complimentary and can be accessed from the ACI World Store.

Despite change, what is clear is that airports are constantly innovating to improve the passenger experience and reduce their impact on the environment.

As technology and innovation continues to advance, we can expect to see even more exciting developments in the near future, with ACI World supporting its members every step of the way.

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