Regional merger will cover 60pc of world's population

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2006, 12:00am

MORE THAN 400 airports in Asia and the Pacific region will come under one umbrella within the global Airports Council International (ACI) during the 16th ACI Pacific Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition.

The new Asia-Pacific region within the ACI is formed by merging the Asia region (the Middle East, India) and the Pacific region (China, Asia, Oceania and the Pacific). The new region will account for a quarter of all airports worldwide.

David Pang, chief executive of the Airport Authority Hong Kong and president of ACI-Pacific, said the region would be the fastest-growing within ACI as it covered 60 per cent of the world's population.

ACI's director general, Robert Aaronson, said the merger 'will encourage better co-ordination and promote exchange of information between members in the region' in light of new patterns in tourism, investments and trade flows.

Dr Pang added that the merger would allow more airports to share in the resources and experiences of their counterparts. 'Every airport has developed some best practices. If you have the best practices from 400 airports, then you choose the best of the best. Obviously that would benefit everybody tremendously,' he said.

One operational issue that Hong Kong International Airport would like more airports to implement is using radio frequency identification (RFID) for baggage handling.

'We would like to see more and more airports use RFID and that it is working nicely,' he said.

Safety is another area of sharing.

'Every airport has put in a lot of resources to make their airport safer. Over the years, the best practices are more refined and have become better. If we can share the experiences with other people, then it will help to save other people's resources too.'

Hong Kong has been taking a leadership role in an ACI-Pacific safety best practice taskforce to promote the sharing of knowledge and experience. The taskforce centralises the best practices and shares them in gatherings every few months. 'We have established a number of best-practices cases. These cases are owned by different airports. The owner will then have the responsibility to continue to improve and update their best practice and to share this with other airports,' he said.

Another ACI-Pacific taskforce focuses on promoting e-airport - using technology in various aspects of the airport operation and services.

These taskforces will continue after the formation of the new region, which will be officially inaugurated at the end of the four-day assembly.

Formerly the headquarters for ACI-Pacific, Hong Kong has been elected again by ACI members to be the headquarters of the new Asia-Pacific region and the host of the current regional assembly. A new president for the Asia-Pacific region will be elected during the assembly.

The issues which the Asia-Pacific region should tackle will be decided by the new management, but Dr Pang pointed to the 'airport city' as an important concept for the future.

The concept will be discussed in the World Airport City Conference, to be held in September in Hong Kong.

Dr Pang said the airport city would be the focal point of the multi-model traffic flow involving air, sea and land.

'The travel experience has to be smooth and efficient and hassle free. To achieve that you need good hardware and software,' he said, adding that the Hong Kong International Airport had a 'very good plan' to achieve that when the Sky Plaza housing the second passenger terminal opened later this year.