Aviation leaders from across the globe and an impressive 27,000 viewers virtually watched the recent World Aviation Conference (WAC) in South Korea, hosted by Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC).
This year’s event was staged a few weeks ahead of the upcoming 20th anniversary of Incheon International Airport, which within five years of its opening was firmly established as one of the world’s leading hubs and a customer service champion.
Thomas Frey, founder and executive director of the Davinci Institute, joined in a special session titled ‘Recalibrating the aviation industry for the coming era of dramatic change’, where he noted that “COVID-19 had accelerated the adaptation of technologies into our daily lives which would have taken long time otherwise.”
He described the introduction of new transportation technologies such as drones, digital twins and autonomous vehicles as a new “sunrise period”.
Considering the current pandemic restrictions, the event had a limited audience with most speakers joining virtually as proceedings were streamed live on YouTube.
‘Innovation Beyond Boundaries: The New Airport Paradigm’ was the theme of this year’s event, with discussions essentially centred around topics such as travel bubbles, vaccine passports, new infectious disease prevention technologies, air travel demand recovery strategies and Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
Kyung-Wook Kim, president and CEO of IIAC delivered the opening remarks, followed by speeches from Byeon Chang-heum, South Korea’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Salvatore Sciacchitano, Council president of ICAO; and Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director general of ACI World, who congratulated Incheon International Airport on its 20th anniversary.
ICAO’s Sciacchitano told the audience that he believed that COVID-19 would have a lasting impact on airport and airline business models and operation of the air transport industry, with both having to taken into account new passenger preferences in the post-COVID era.
He also noted that “cross-sectoral co-operation and harmonisation is necessary to strengthen the capability of global aviation industry to overcome this crisis” and that “States should develop competencies in operational, technological and regulatory aspect”.
ACI World’s de Oliveira said: “Collaboration between all players in the aviation industry will be vital to continue to increase passenger confidence and safely welcome them back.”
He also emphasised the importance of future travel preparation, stating that the industry might need to re-design the end-to-end passenger journey based on a better understanding of customers’ needs.
Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports for the Asia-Pacific region talked about the association’s Travel Pass initiative, while Mohd Daud Mohd Arif, Malaysia’s Senior Director of Tourism Policy and International Affairs Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, discussed strategies that would aid the recovery of air traffic demand and revenues in the post-COVID era.
Other speakers included Dr Ansa Jordaan, ICAO’s aviation medicine section chief; Kerissa Khan, UK Research and Innovation’s future flight innovation lead; and Korean Air’s senior vice president of its passenger business division, Jinho Lee, who shared his carrier’s post-COVID response strategy.
Incheon’s Kyung-Wook Kim said “This year’s event delivered a series of presentations and discussions by globally renowned speakers, which I hope will be valuable to both Korean and overseas audiences.
“We strive to lead the development of global airport industry and I would like to organise additional platforms to continue to exchange more knowledge and information.”