Bringing airports of Central and Eastern Europe together

21/09/2022

Last Friday over 200 representatives from global aviation industry have met in Warsaw at The Airport Innovation Roundtable 2022 to discuss essential aspects of the aviation ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe. This year we welcomed a record-breaking number of participants and hosted over 9 break-out sessions with experts of various industries!

Jointly with the representatives of airports, airports associations, global air operators, government authorities and various key players of the aviation sector of all kind, we raised and discussed the most up-to-dated topics of aviation industry development, including the impact of ACI Europe and other global authorities. Nevertheless, innovation remained the most important element of our conference – both in classically associated areas, such as the airport’s IT industry, and in areas which traditionally follow the established trends, such as the HR industry and sustainable development. 

Region full of possibilities

“It may sound like a cliché but with difficult situation on the market, pandemic, war, economic and climate crisis – all are extremely demanding challenges. Such times require courage and tight cooperation. Personally, I believe that the aviation and airport industry will develop dynamically in the upcoming years, and we want to and eventually will play a big part in this growth. It is great responsibility, but also an opportunity for many good changes and long-term cooperations.” – said Stanisław Wojtera, CEO of Polish Airports State Enterprise during the opening session. 

Among guests and panelists there were Marcin Horała, Plenipotentiary of the Polish Government for the Solidarity Transport Hub, Rafał Milczarski, CEO and President of the Management Board PLL LOT, Chris Dinsdale, CEO of Budapest Airport, Ralph Beisel, Director General of ADV (German Association of Airports), and Oliver Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe.  

“Poland is an example of a country that keeps focusing on long-term planning of the infrastructure development, and long-term focus is becoming extremely rare in Europe. Past two years have taken a big toll on the airports and their staff, but we are finally recovering. Our latest data shows that passenger traffic across European airport network has doubled in July, so we are getting pretty close to the pre-pandemic level” – said Jankovec.

Future of aviation industry

During the Innovative Airport panel our valued panelists, moderated by Marcel Riwalsky, CEO and Executive Editor at Aviation-Event, have spotted some light on top innovation trends in aviation industry, what is coming up, what is being implemented now and what is extremely needed to be adapted in the nearest future to bring the airport operations and services to the next level. There where discussion about virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence that could help plan and develop airports. Marcin Horała explained the idea of Solidarity Hub Poland, and its intermodality. He sees future of aviation connected strictly to the rail industry. 

The panelists of Green Airports discussion focused on making a difference by looking into how airports can make their structures more sustainable, either to create energy through using solar panels, wind turbines, or to reduce CO2 emissions by making tarmac of an asphalt. Jakub Kluziński, CEO of Welcome SA (ground handling company) mentioned that most of producers of the airport equipment are going to change engines of their vehicles to electrical ones: “It looks like there is no other way, but to have all of the vehicles in the airport electrical. Working  together is a big challenge for ground handling companies, but is even a bigger challenge for airports”. “Change must be done in a strict cooperation” – he added. 

Future of Cargo panel featured strategies, solutions and current challenges of the cargo sector. With the honorable participation of representatives from IATA, ground handling services, cargo departments of global airlines and needless to say airports, we have covered the need for innovation versus standardization and the cooperation of these two. The speakers foregrounded the need for service improvement, as well as urgent demand for solutions dictated by e-commerce popularization. Dedicated cargo flights or belly cargo, airport operators or dedicated cargo companies – panelists vividly discussed what exactly the future of cargo look like. 

General Aviation experts in the panel of the same name have forecasted the technologies and business models that will occur in the industry in the next 10 years. Panelists debated on whether drones could be a part of general aviation in future, whether their airports are planning to use EASA guidelines for handling drone incidents, and whether U-space has its place in their airports. 

Big data and new technology

The discussion of Big data and AI in airports has illuminated the important role of digitalization and AI in airport transformation. Facial and human body recognition, vehicle identification and tracking, intelligent and visualized flight services – everything is to deliver an efficient and seamless airport experience, certainly with the highest level security.

We were honored to welcome our special overseas guests from Canada for a break-out session dedicated to New Technologies Improving Airfield Operations. Representatives of two leading technology companies spotted the lights on airfield operations advancement solutions – such leading automations like snow and ice control, deicing management technology, etc. The experts illuminated how linking the deicing stakeholders via the latest patented software brings deicing coordinators, deicing truck operators and even flight crews all on the same page.

Aviation is strictly connected to tourism and retail sector

Innovation in Retail Sector panel has focused on non-aviation revenues in aviation premises by offering modern and groundbreaking solutions. Experts of retail and commercial sectors from different parts of Europe have agreed that retail is one of the most auspicious areas. Intelligent food order kiosks, in-store digital media, linking data sources of concessionaires and airports all to understand and meet the needs of passengers, to enhance their experience.

Prosperity of the industries is a dependent system of equations, where aviation and tourism sectors equally benefit from collaborating and moving forward together. Focus on Tourism panel accentuated the importance of this synergy. Airports recognize the significance of the tourism commerce and are investing to deliver new services, new routes and new airlines to the market. Their tight collaboration with government, airlines and tourism agencies is an essential part of collective growth and success.

Restoring Ukrainian Airports

One of the most emotional parts of our conference was greeting delegates of Ukrainian aviation industry during these cruel times. Despite the hardest circumstances of modern history Ukrainian aviators are proud of their professionals and experts of the industry, who keep fighting while looking into the bright future and planning their recovery. Restoring Ukrainian Airports break-out session was dedicated to the current condition of aviation infrastructure of Ukraine region, ongoing projects and renovation strategies. 

Photos from the conference

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