Airport Capacity Building: ACI’s Approach

We often talk about the incredible value of training: when it is done right, it results in motivated employees who contribute to the success of our business, whether we work for airports, airlines, air navigation service providers or civil aviation authorities’.

I would propose we consider a more holistic approach to training and contemplate the term “Capacity Building”. Ensuring we are on the same page, I would refer to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) definition and then adapt their approach to how ACI provides capacity building to our members.

The UNDP defines capacity building as a “…long-term continual process of development that involves all stakeholders; including ministries, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, professionals, community members, academics and more. Capacity building uses a country’s human, scientific, technological, organizational, and institutional and resource capabilities. The goal of capacity building is to tackle problems related to policy and methods of development, while considering the potential, limits and needs of the people of the country concerned.”

They further refine this definition into three levels that we have adapted at ACI to make this relevant to our role in serving our members.

  1. Employee level

This requires the encouragement of conditions that allow individual participants (at all levels) to build and enhance knowledge and skills. This is defined by the various tools that learning and development professionals have at their disposal, such as training, staff exchanges and mentoring to name a few.

To meet this need, ACI provides both classroom and online airport education and the training programmes that were outlined in our last ICAO Training Report article. Under the auspices of capacity building we have two other programmes that help develop the talent in our members.

The Airport Excellence (APEX) Programme conducts peer reviews based on ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in safety and security, by sending airport experts from around the world to conduct a one-week on-site review. In addition to the value of the peer review, this programme has the additional benefit of allowing colleagues (both visiting and local) to learn from each other, fostering both professional and personal friendships that last long past the review itself!

A second initiative are Executive Leadership Exchanges Programme (ELEP). This new programme is being led by ACI’s five regional HR and Leadership Committees and is targeted at executive-level staff. ELEP—which will be launched in 2018—will aim to have airports exchange executive staff to allow for peer-to-peer learning over a fixed period.


  1. Airport organization level

This involves supporting airport members, via committees and programmes in the process of enhancing their specific activities such as customer experience, safety, security. The organizational capacity building approach is used by airports to develop internally so they can better fulfill their defined mission.

Standing committees – These committees are mandated by the ACI Governing Board to provide guidance and council, and help shape current policy issues for Governing Board endorsement in their areas of expertise. They are also required to assist the Governing Board, Executive Committee and Secretariat.  The committees consist of airport and industry members with specific knowledge and expertise in areas of Airport IT, Economics, Environment, Facilitation & Services, Safety & Technical and Aviation Security.

Programmes – ACI has several programmes that benefit this organizational level such as the previously mentioned Airport Excellence (APEX) and Global Training.

  1. Airport Customer level

This supports the establishment of a more interactive public administration that learns equally from its actions and from the feedback it receives from the travelling public (i.e. the customers they serve).

ACI’s Customer Experience Programmes, the Airport Service Quality (ASQ), is the world-renowned and globally established global benchmarking programme that measures passengers’ satisfaction whilst they are travelling through an airport. The ASQ programme provides research tools and management information to better understand passengers’ views and what they want from an airport’s products and services.

On top of the ASQ and employee survey programme, there are yearly ASQ forums which enable airport experts to exchange ideas with other industry experts on new and emerging trends in customer experience.

As you can see in our approach to capacity building, we have chosen to take several different approaches to provide as many learning opportunities as possible for both the individual and the airport member. The key to our success and on-going relevance is to remain agile and flexible by continually re-evaluating how to best serve our members with current and future trends that can affect our members. With this approach, ACI has embarked on a voyage that will set a course for increased success in achieving airport excellence for the foreseeable future.

About the author

Kevin Caron is the Head of the Global Training and Developing Nations Airport (DNA) Assistance Programme for ACI World. He serves on the ACI-ICAO Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) Steering Committee as ACI Team Leader. Prior to ACI, Kevin spent eight years with the Montreal Airports Authority (Aéroports de Montreal) before joining IATA in 2003, where he held two training management positions in security and airports.

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