Airport investment, politics, airline relations: CAPA Airport Leaders Forum, Dubai, 16/17 May


Airport investment, the global geopolitical environment, airline inflight retailing and how it will affect airport retail, what do airlines want from airports, designing an aerotropolis, all of these are in the mix as the airline world rapidly changes.

Two big issues are how the policies of US President Donald Trump and the British decision to leave the European Union will affect the aviation world generally. These are already having a global impact - as already demonstrated by President Trump's twice attempted immigrant ban and the restrictions on the carrying of laptop computers in airline cabins.

These issues will come under the spotlight at the CAPA Global Airport Leaders Forum, to be held on 16/17- May-2017 in Dubai, as an adjunct to the Dubai Airport Show 2017 (http://www.theairportshow.com/). The Airport Show is the leading B2B platform for companies to showcase airport and aviation related products and services, and is expected to attract over 300 companies and 7,500 professionals this year.

For full details, please see:

CAPA Global Airport Leaders Forum, Dubai, 16/17-May

Hosted by CAPA - Centre for Aviation, the event is unique in being the most airline-centric airport strategy Summit on the calendar.

Executives from the airport and airline sectors, along with regulators, industry suppliers, financiers, consultants, lawyers and academics, are welcome to participate in a spirit of mutual cooperation.

Day 1: CAPA Global Airport Leaders Forum, 16-May-2017

A keynote opening address will be given by CAPA's Executive Chairman, Peter Harbison, introducing some of the subjects that will be discussed: trends in aviation economics and politics; protectionism and its effects on airline growth; the correlation (or lack of it) between airport ownership and investment, fleet expansion and traffic growth; and the collective implications for primary and secondary hubs.

Session 1: Investing in new airports,

  • Keynote: CEO of New Istanbul Airport Istanbul IGA Airport, Hüseyin Keskin (the world's biggest airport and largest ever PPP transaction, in Turkey)

  • Keynote: CEO of the leading Chinese airport group, HNA Airport Group, CEO, WANG Hexin

  • Keynote: Turkish Airlines Deputy Chairman & CEO, Bilal Ekşi

Panel Session: Will airports always be good investments?

The 'privatisation' of airports has been established as an activity for 30 years this year.

  • Bearing in mind that some countries, even developed ones like the USA and Canada, are still uncertain about privatisation, has it proven to be a good thing?
  • Is the way the industry is regulated at odds with the needs of investors, and if so, how can a successful marriage be ensured?
  • The PPP (3P/P3) transaction is increasingly popular: is it the future, globally?
  • In an age of continuing consolidation and hybridisation of modes, both short and long haul, what is the justification today for investing in low cost terminals, let alone entire airports?

The panel includes an active investor, one that scaled back its foreign operations, and a Middle East operator that is seeking both to invest in other airports and to be invested in, at the same time.

Keynote: Dubai Airports Masterplan, Dubai Airports, CEO, Paul Griffiths

Keynote presentation: CEO of Pittsburgh Airport

Pittsburgh is an airport that has suffered from the effects of airline de-hubbing and consolidation but which seems now to have turned the corner, with three successive years of traffic growth. Her theme will be 'Innovation and Redefining the Airport Role'.

Panel Session: 'What airlines really want from airports. Straight-talk: are they listening?'

The session starts with the premise that low cost airlines (LCCs), hybrid airlines and full service airlines (FSCs) are meeting customer demand in very different ways. Do the airports that serve them really understand the diverging business models and provide infrastructure and services to maximise the opportunity? And, where the demands conflict, how do airports respond most effectively?

The panel includes members from airports, airlines, regional trade bodies and IATA:

Keynote: ForwardKeys, CMO, Laurens van den Oeverfrom: Onboard retail sales (and can inflight Wi-Fi will threaten airport retail sales?)

Panel Session: Retail on board: When will inflight threaten airport sales?

A global market which is worth anywhere from USD30-50 billion is highly attractive, yet airlines have scarcely scratched the surface of this massive market. Now, as Wi-Fi spreads across aircraft where passengers can be 'captive' for 15 hours and more, the potential for tapping into the huge traveller spend suddenly blossoms.

Added to that, the growing sophistication of data analytics and the potential for selling to specific passenger targets lend an extraordinary dimension. The market for online sales is unlimited, even in the marketing of property.

The discussion will include:

  • Could onboard Wi-Fi actually enhance airport retail sales and allow for even greater penetration?
  • How do airport retailers currently target and profile passengers?
  • ForwardKeys, CMO, Laurens van den Oever
  • Market Square Consult, Managing Director, Johan Schölvinck
  • SITAONAir, Manager Strategy & Marketing, MEIA, Neale Faulkner

Keynote: Hamad International Airport, COO, Badr Al-Meer

Day 2: CAPA Global Airport Leaders Forum, 17-May-2017

The first session of the second day gets straight down to business discussing how the change in the US government will affect US airports and their ageing infrastructure - which has been openly criticised by President Trump.

The US has a major problem with ageing infrastructure and it is much broader than just airports. But airports are conspicuous, especially to politicians, who use them frequently and compare them unfavourably with the gleaming modern structures they land at abroad.

Panel Session: 'US Airport Infrastructure challenge: will a Trump administration change the shape of US airports?'

This session will debate:

  • Are there lessons to be learned from China's expansion?
  • What is President Trump doing to upgrade infrastructure, and how will it be funded?
  • Can privatisation be the solution?

Panel Members:

Open Discussion: What will Brexit mean for UK and European airports?

Article 50 has been triggered, and the UK and Europe could go their separate ways within two years. Moving from a decision to this practical reality has opened up a can of worms with regard to the regulatory and economic environment that will follow the 'divorce', and how that will impact on both of the ex-partners and the wider world as well.

The discussion - which may be an animated one! - will revolve around topics such as:

  • Traffic rights (what will replace the current 'Open Skies' arrangement?)
  • Airline ownership (which can influence which airlines can operate into/out of UK and European airports post-Brexit)
  • Interpretations of international law
  • The return of 'Duty Free' sales at airports

There has been much negativity about Brexit and this session will attempt to strike a balance between genuine aviation industry concerns and nascent opportunities.

Discussion led by: BKH Aviation, Aviation Consultant, Barry Humphreys

Then follows a presentation by Airlink, the industry charitable activity supporting disaster relief.

  • Keynote: The Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission, Matthew Baldwin

Panel Session: Low cost long haul to short haul connectivity (and vice versa) - NextGen facilitation and technology

The recent announcement of a deal between Ryanair and Norwegian for mutual feeder flights in the summer of 2017 has put this previously theoretical scenario of short and long haul low cost cooperation into perspective.

The session will cover to what degree the often congested hub airports that have complex connectivity infrastructure can exert any attraction to LCCs that typically prefer low costs, simple facilities and quick turnarounds.

Some LCCs are reorienting towards connecting operations, as well as seeking out more adequate facilities as they increasingly target business travellers. Several are even more keen to be housed within the same terminal as full service airlines, to allow their customers to connect.

So, airports are faced with constantly shifting and conflicting airline needs and demands, with an array of airline types, from ultra low cost at one end of the scale, through hybrid, to full service airlines. The session will tackle the sorts of issues that constantly arise, for example:

  • Whether dedicated LCC facilities are really needed now
  • How to deal with shifting needs as LCCs seek to connect with FSCs
  • Airport-airline relationships: can airlines protect against the goalposts shifting under airport ownership changes?

And, on a broader level:

  • Is increasing competition at primary airports taking on new meanings?
  • What implications are there for infrastructure investment and facilities conversion?
  • How fast and to what extent will LCCs want greater connectivity, online and interline?
  • How important a feature will this become in competition between airports - and to what extent will regulatory matters intervene?

This panel, which includes representatives from an airport group operator, a multi carrier booking system, and an international aviation consultancy, looks at this complex array of issues from various perspectives.

Moderator: Airbiz, Managing Director, Greg Fordham Panel Members:

Keynote: Division Director, Corporate & Asset Finance of Macquarie Bank, Peter Farthing: Bespoke Capital Markets Products

Panel Session: Airport Capacity - the biggest challenge to growth

The closing session of the main event comprises a panel of senior executives drawn from disparate sectors.

Capacity issues exist at airports in all parts of the world. Slots are key to the issue, but more slots can be 'created' through: Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM), rapid exit taxiways, more effective use of stand planning and optimisation, time based separation, terminal throughput and turn times, slot management practices, incentivising upgauging, and many other measures.

The panel will examine:

  • What can congested gateways do to increase capacity and 'squeeze more juice' out of the asset?
  • What lessons can be learned from the Gulf and other regions?
  • Do airlines need to take the initiative on airport infrastructure? Should airlines build their own airports?

Moderator: Nyras Capital, Partner, David Huttner

Designing and operating an Airport City, or Aerotropolis. Case studies on developing airport activity

The concept of the Airport City is now 25 years old and out of it has arisen the 'Aerotropolis', which is a process or strategy, rather than a project.

The discussion will address the evolution and development of the Airport City and the Aerotropolis, examining the various success factors and asking:

  • What role do the public and private sectors typically play?
  • Where do they go from here? Can any airport develop one, or are they restricted to an elite 'Premier League' where metropolitan size, scope and location are the deciding factors?
  • Does the presence of an airport city become the main driver of passenger and freight growth? If so, should the airport city dominate the airport management's strategic thinking?
  • Are there negative socio-economic impacts, such as the loss of green belt land displacement, the exclusion of communities and the creation of economic enclaves?

Moderated by the Editor-in-Chief of one the world's leading real estate magazines, the panel includes: consultants specialising in airport cities, a strategy planner, a project director from airports that are building them, and an architect specialising in the genre.

Covering, as it does, the global strategic challenges and opportunities facing airport operators, regulators and airport industry suppliers - this is a forum you will not want to miss!

Moderator: Site Selection Magazine, Editor in Chief, Mark Arend
Panel Members:

NOTE: CAPA has recently published the following report. Please click on the title to view details:

Aerotropolises and Airport Cities: The world's top 10 airport city projects

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