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Official logo of the ACI.
Official logo of the ACI.

Airports Council International (ACI) is the only global trade representative of the world's airport authorities. Established in 1991, ACI represents airports' interests with governments and international organizations, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and it provides information and training opportunities to raise the standards around the world. It aims to provide the public a safe, secure, efficient and an environmentally responsible air transport system.

It is governed by the ACI Governing Board. ACI World is located in Montreal, Quebec, CanaI works on a daily basis with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and is a member of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG).


Before 1970, the world's airports were represented on the international scene by three distinct associations:

· Airport Operators Council International (AOCI)

· International Civil Airports Association (ICAA)

· Western European Airports Association (WEAA)

Due to the growing importance of external factors on airport operations, the need for a formal relationship with governments, airlines, manufacturers and other parties concerned become more apparent. In 1970, these three associations created the Airport Associations Coordinating Council (AACC) in order to formulate unified airport industry policies, furthering collaboration between its constituent associations, and representing them collectively with worldwide aviation organizations and other relevant bodies.[1]

The decision to create ACI, which succeeded AACC, was taken in 1989. The Constitution of ACI was approved in the autumn of 1990 and came to effect in 1991.

In 2011, ACI relocated its headquarters from Geneva, Switzerland to Montreal, Canada. The decision was in part motivated by the fact that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is located in Montreal. The purpose was to facilitate a better coordination of their activities and also to operate alongside the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), also located in the same city.[2]

In 2016 airports worldwide welcomed 7.7 billion arriving and departing passengers and handled 110 million metric tonnes of cargo and 92 million aircraft movements.[3]

ACI reported 641 members operating 1,957 airports in 176 countries and territories. ACI regular members are owners or operators, other than airlines, of one or more civil airports with commercial air services.


ACI represents airports interests with Governments and international organizations such as ICAO, develops standards, policies and recommended practices for airports, and provides information and training opportunities to raise standards around the world.[4]

ACI considers safety as its main priority, and has launched programs such as Airport Excellence (APEX) to help airports enhance their level of safety. ACI also provides numerous publications on recommendations and best practices for airport operators.[5] As part of its dedications to safe operations, ACI is involved in airport design specifications, standard operating procedures for airports, technology, systems & equipment, safety management systems for airports, safety guidance material and training.[6]

ACI encourages its member airports to continuously improve operational and cost efficiency to moderate the cost of flying and to mitigate intensifying capacity shortfalls, but also to create sufficient rates of return enabling to invest in additional capacity.[4]

ACI has formulated a number of policy positions on security issues which guide the organisation and member airports.[4]

All of the ACI World IT initiatives are coordinated through the ACI World Airport IT Standing Committee. It is constituted by leaders from airports and business partners around the world and aims to reformulate recommended practices and develop guidelines, benchmarking and training materials to help airports find the best business solutions for themselves, their partners and their customers.[4]

ACI develops initiatives to promote aviation and airport sustainable developments in order to limit or reduce environmental impacts while supporting economic and social benefits.[7] ACI created tools to help airport calculate their own greenhouse gas emissions.[8]

As one of the founding members of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), ACI, along with other trade associations, is part of a coalition of aviation industry experts focusing on sustainable development issue. ATAG defines common positions on issues to make expert and constructive contributions to the industry and governmental consultation process.[9]

ACI helps airports improve their management or flow of passengers, baggage, cargo and mail by providing a set of best practices together with measuring and benchmarking opportunities provided through the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) programs.[10]

In 2015, ACI created an Expert Group on Slots (EGS) that proposes a worldwide policy on slots. The Group wrote a Position Paper to guide ACI's advocacy on this topic and recommend appropriate involvement in the development of the IATA Worldwide Slot Guidelines.


ASQ is a worldwide program part of the ACI's Airport Quality Service Initiative that surveys passengers on their day of travel, measuring passengers' view. The program measures passengers' satisfaction at both the departure and the arrival stages of their journey through airports.[11]

By providing a global benchmark of passenger satisfaction, ASQ enables airports to see where they stand relatively to their peers and competitors. This helps airports prioritize improvement projects and validates investments in new facilities and services.[12]

ACI first launched the Airports Excellence Program (APEX) in Safety in 2012.[13] The program provides assistance for airports to enhance their level of safety. The programme's cornerstone is the airport safety review, which analyzes gaps in airport operation and infrastructure in comparison to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and safety best practices.[14] ACI organizes and dispatches an on-site team of experts from ICAO and other airports to identify and remedy safety vulnerabilities through peer reviews, information sharing, training, assistance with implementation of management structures. The audits cover the setup, implementation and performance of the safety management system in the areas of physical characteristics & pavement management, air rescue and firefighting, wildlife management, apron management, documentation & record keeping, as well as security management systems.[15] The APEX programme is designed for all airports, regardless of size or location.

In October 2017, ACI launched the APEX in Security Program based on the same principles as APEX in Safety. The program covers all aspects of Operational Security Management, with assessments being performed by peers that consist of the best airport security experts from around the world.[16]

Airport Carbon Accreditation was launched as an independent, voluntary programme in 2009 after the adoption of a resolution on Climate Change in 2008 at the annual assembly of ACI Europe. Member airports committed to reduce carbon emissions from their operations, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. The programme allow the assessment and recognition of participating airports' efforts to manage and reduce their CO2 emissions.

Airport Carbon Accreditation has been extended to airports in the Asia-pacific region in 2011, in Africa in 2013, and eventually went global in 2014 with the extension to the regions of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.[17]

In 2017, IATA and ACI launched the New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXTT) initiative, that aims to help deliver this future by developing a common vision to enhance the on-ground transport experience, guide industry investments and help governments improve the regulatory framework. NEXTT investigates how passengers, cargo, baggage and aircraft move through the complete travel journey with a focus on change in off-airport activities, advanced processing technology, and interactive decision-making.[18]

Airports Council International expressed airports' commitment to the fight against human trafficking through the approbation of a resolution during the ACI World General Assembly in 2016. The resolution expressed ACI's commitments to promote awareness of human trafficking through media, provide access to training materials and materials for distribution, encourage the incorporation of training into airport staff security awareness programmes, and support activities of governments, charities and non-governmental organizations who are involved in the prevention of human trafficking.[19]

Airports Council International is committed to developing a framework to fight wildlife trafficking and adopting and encouraging the adoption of a zero tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade. ACI was one of the parties involved in the signature of the United for Wildlife Task Force Declaration at the Buckingham Palace in 2016.[20] The organization is dedicated to developing a practical solutions while cooperating with international initiatives such as the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) partnership.[21]

Regional offices


ACI delivers data regarding the aviation industry monthly and annually.

Airport Service Quality Awards

The ACI gives out the Airport Service Quality Awards (ASQ), based on passenger satisfaction ratings in the ASQ Survey, which is a global survey based on interviews with passengers on the day of travel. Along with the World Airport Awards by Skytrax, it is considered one of the most prestigious accolades in the industry.[22]

The awards are given out in five categories:

  • Best Airport by Region
  • Best Airport by Size
  • Best Regional Airport
  • Best Improvement
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