ACI Europe conference is a success

By Administrator |

Around 400 delegates attended yesterday's 15th ACI Europe Airport Trading Conference in London and responded positively to a day of quality content presentations from high level industry executives.ACI Europe Director General Roy Griffins gave the

first welcome address reminding all delegates that a dark shadow of potential airport congestion faces European airports if new facilities are not built quickly and existing terminals and airport infrastructure are not upgraded.Traffic growth was simply outstripping capacity, said Griffins, echoing a message he has made a priority in recent months. Griffins was followed by a welcome address from the host, BAA, where Ceo Mike Clasper talked about emerging markets, new generation aircraft and changing customer profiles. (In this brief report we concentrate on Clasper's comments and will release speeches and presentations from selected other excellent speakers over the next few days-Ed)While many look to the potential growth of emerging markets such as India and China within those markets themselves, Clasper said that BAA is also looking at what it means for its UK airports in terms of new and potentially hungry spenders.He said passenger growth from China through BAA airports grew by 37% last year and traffic from India was even higher at 45%. He said BAA continued to grow its revenues and last year its retail turnover reached an impressive ?847m, which he pointed out was the single highest revenue earning sector, ahead of aeronautical with ?828m and property at ?440m.Turning to the subject of the A380 and new generation aircraft, Clasper said this was also a huge opportunity for BAA at Heathrow in particular and especially considering that runway slots are at a premium at Heathrow. An aircraft that can deliver 555 passengers in one landing was obviously preferable to one carrying a maximum of 400 and Clasper said that the opportunities for retail were obvious.Moving on, he said that another big challenge is to find new ways to appeal to new customer segments and obviously Heathrow Terminal 5 represented a huge investment on the part of BAA at ?4.2bn, for a terminal that will be capable of handling between 35m and 40m passengers a year. Clasper said that T5 represents the first opportunity for BAA for years to design a terminal with the assertion that there will actually be retail present and this was exciting, since it would not be a case of having to make do by squeezing retail in whatever space could be found available, as has been the case in some of the older terminals.T5 would also provide a better platform of logistics for retailers all round, he said with efficiently organised systems promising better results for everybody.Clasper then talked about BAA's International Division and pointed to the high spends that the airports company has been able to build at certain locations. Average spend per customer had increased from $2.40 to $12.40 since BAA took over the management contract at Pittsburgh Airport in the US and sales had increased by 20% at Baltimore, he said, adding that the difference that creativity and sheer effort makes is everything.Looking at the company's equity investments in overseas airports, including Melbourne, Perth, the Northern Territory, Naples and Budapest, Clasper said that BAA had a real belief in the ability of Budapest to grow both in traffic and retail terms, while he acknowledged that BAA had paid a premium for the airport.Casper also mentioned BAA's Global Airports Services (GAS) company in positive terms and emphasised his belief that partnerships between airports and retailers is a better way forward than the old traditional model.Finally Clasper wished delegates a successful conference and he finished whimsically by saying that he was off to brush up on his Spanish, in wry reference to speculation that Spanish company Grupo Ferrovial is looking at bidding for BAA.(More reports from the ACI conference will appear over the next few days, as Doug Newhouse is moderating the event and returns to the newsdesk later today).

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