ACI Asia-Pacific’s Young Executive Award 2022: Adapting Airports in the APAC Region

By Stefano Baronci 20 September, 2022

For this year’s ACI Asia-Pacific YEA, young talents presented airport adaptation strategies to combat climate change. We chat with ACI Director Baronci to find out who won, key takeaways & the theme for next year

Aviation is in the spotlight for its impact on the environ; climate change theme was selected to showcase airports environ. commitments; passenger are set to >2x by 2040
2022 winner focused on climate change impacts of APAC airports, key operational & business risks and highlighted innovative solutions & regional collaboration opportunities
YEA 2023 theme is ‘The Future of Airport Workforce’ given the reshaping from the pandemic; the competition has been launched, so young talent get submitting!
Stefano Baronci
Author: Stefano Baronci
Mr. Stefano Baronci is the Director General of Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific, an association representing the interests of airports in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Appointed in December 2019, Mr. Baronci is responsible for driving and executing the strategic plan of the association and overseeing a team of professionals at the Regional Office based in Hong Kong. Mr. Baronci has 22 years of analytic and representational experience at national and international levels in the aviation sector, representing both airport and airline industries. He is very familiar with the ACI community, having previously served as the Director of Economics at ACI World in Montreal and Senior Policy Manager at ACI Europe in Brussels. He has also served as Secretary General of Assaeroporti, the Italian airport operators association, and Assistant Director and ATM Infrastructure Expert at the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Mr. Baronci, a native of Italy, holds an Executive MBA from Warwick University in the United Kingdom and graduated with a Law degree from La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. He is married with two children.
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Introduced in 2009, the Young Executive Award (YEA) is an annual research paper competition which honors the young airport executives who demonstrate strong passion for the aviation industry and propose innovative ideas to address the most pressing issues that the industry is facing today. The topic of the YEA for 2022 was “Adapting Airports to a Changing Climate in the Region”. This year’s winner was Mr. Rekibuddin Ahmed, from Delhi International Airport Limited whom was awarded a cash prize and scholarship to the Airports Council International (ACI) World Global Training Airport Operations Diploma Programme. Delhi International Airport will also receive an additional scholarship to any ACI Global Training Leadership and Management Professional Certificate course, in support of its learning and development endeavors.


CWR: Thanks for speaking with us today, Stefano. What is the Young Executive Award (YEA) and why you did you select climate change adaptation as this year’s theme?

Stefano Baronci (SB): Introduced in 2009, the ACI Asia-Pacific Young Executive Award (YEA) is the only programme in Asia-Pacific & the Middle East region which honors the young airport executives who demonstrate strong passion for the aviation industry and propose innovative ideas to address the most pressing issues that the industry is facing today.

Climate change was the theme to showcase airports commitment in reducing environ. impact – esp. as no. of flyers is set to increase

The reason behind selecting climate change as the theme for this year’s YEA Programme is to demonstrate airports commitment in reducing the impact on the environment. ACI forecasts indicate that close to 19.7 billion passengers are expected to traverse the world’s airports by 2040—more than double of the 9 billion passengers travelled in 2019.

The growth in passenger demand will put increased pressure on capacity to accommodate and facilitate seamless travel experiences as well as align to environmentally sustainable targets, particularly decarbonisation goals.

CWR: How are airports exposed? What are the key risks if they do not adapt to the changing climate?

SB: Integrating sustainability into operations and business strategy will help airports increase their efficiency, reduce their risk of being severely impacted by climate change, and other risks, increasing their resiliency to the changing operational conditions they will inevitably face.

 The aviation industry must develop more ambitious CO2 reduction goals

Aviation is in the spotlight for its impact on environment. Given the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) call for a net-zero economy by 2050, the aviation industry must develop more ambitious CO2 reduction goals to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

CWR: And about the YEA this year. How the winner was selected? Can you share some insights/ key takeaways from their paper? Can we access the papers?

SB: The Winner of the Young Executive Award is decided by a panel of judges comprised of relevant industry representatives. The Award for 2022 was selected by the following judges:

  • Jean-Michel Ratron, Director General, Aeroport de Tahiti – ACI Asia-Pacific Board Member
  • Mohamed Yousif AL-BINFALAH, CEO, Bahrain Airport Company – ACI Asia-Pacific Board Member
  • Debra Tan, Director & Head, CWR
  • Manjit Singh – Deputy Regional Director, ICAO Asia and Pacific
  • Stefano Baronci – Director General, ACI Asia-Pacific (owner of the YEA Programme)

The winner highlighted innovative adaptation solutions & collaboration opportunities

The winning paper focused on the climate change impacts of the Asia Pacific Airports as well as the key operational and business risk. Moreover, key adaptation measures implemented by the Airports have also been looked at.

The paper also highlighted some of the new and innovative climate change adaptation solutions and collaboration opportunities for Airports of this region. To access the paper. “Adapting Airports To A Changing Climate in the Asia Pacific Region“, click here.

CWR: What’s in store for YEA 2023?

SB: Airport staff are essential to the proper functioning of the industry, which include ground handling, safety, security, logistics, immigration etc. Before the pandemic, on a global scale, around 88 million jobs were supported by air transport, with about 60% of these jobs concentrated on airport sites. This includes employees from airlines, airport operators, concessionaires and government agencies, just to name a few.

2023 theme will focus on ‘The Future of Airport Workforce’ given the reshaping from the pandemic…

…young talents are invited to share initiatives in alleviating staff shortage & roadmap to cater future demand

It is evident that 2 years of pandemic has reshaped the global economy and resulted in reallocation of human capital. Many professionals with transferable skills have left the industry for better and clearer career advancement opportunities in other sectors.

The pandemic and its inherent effect on airports highlighted the need for adaptability, agility, and resilience in today’s workforce. The growing adoption of artificial intelligence, increasing pace of automation and adoption of new technologies further accelerates how work will change, requiring new skillsets for the airport workforce of the future.

Having gotten used to a new way of working, the future workforce will increasingly seek greater flexibility in their work while giving importance to the values and cultures of their organisations. Against such a context, it is essential for airports to review and revaluate these shifts and the implications on the future of airport workforce to position your airports for success.

For Young Executive Award competition 2023, we have launched “The Future of Airport Workforce” as the award theme, to invite young talents to share their to share their initiatives in alleviating staff shortages at their respective airports in the short-and-medium-term as well as the road map to cater future demand, while ensuring a socially sustainable recovery.

We welcome candidates at or under the age of 35 at the to join the award. They should be currently serving in a middle management position at any ACI Asia-Pacific airport member and have a minimum of two years of working experience in the aviation.

For more programme details see here.


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