Category Archives: Training

ACI-NA Launches Edge4Vets at Airports Program

by Kevin M. Burke
ACI-NA President and CEO

This Memorial Day, ACI-NA celebrates the service members who have dedicated their lives to honoring and protecting the United States of America. In my mind, there is no better way to say thank you than to provide veterans with the skills and access necessary to make the transition to the civilian work force.

That’s why I am thrilled to announce the launch of our Edge4Vets at Airports program which aims to translate returning veterans’ military aviation skills to the civilian airport industry. This program, run through Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute and funded by the Walmart Foundation through the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families, will begin phase I in New York at JFK and LaGuardia airports. The hope is that this pilot effort will expand across our ACI-NA network to member airports in the United States.

On May 21 Edge4Vets and ACI-NA officially announced this partnership at JFKIAT, and also hosted an informal ‘teach-in’ with young veterans looking to get into the civilian aviation industry and older aviation veterans who have been working the civilian side for many years (pictured at left). The event boasted 50 participants, including 25 veterans from a half-dozen schools and 25 airport mentors from Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue and Hudson Group.

For me, the ‘teach-in’ solidified the genuine interest returning service members have about working in our industry and affirms my commitment, as a CEO of a leading association in one of the United States’ top industries, to make sure we reach out to veterans about the opportunities in U.S. aviation.

Edge4Vets at Airports will be working with ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee to train returning service members in four separate workshops, all of which will take place at airports to maximize veterans’ exposure to the facilities and employees. While we are just in the initial stages, the goal is to expand to member airports around the country, using our HR network and capitalizing on the Edge4Vets program infrastructure.

We’re fortunate that airports represent a wide variety of skills and career opportunities that match well to the types of training and skills service members already possess, and ACI-NA is proud to take this next step with this Edge4Vets at Airports program. As the nation’s military commitments return to peacetime readiness and more veterans are looking to return to civilian life, we are preparing to welcome our returning heroes with exciting career opportunities.

Edge4Vets at Airports is led by its founder, Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University. The Walmart Foundation, through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, provided the grant to develop the plan for Edge4Vets at Airports. Edge4Vets will conduct a campaign to raise funds to implement the plan as a pilot in New York and then expand the program nationally to airports across the U.S. Edge4Vets will be working with Goodwill Industries “Operation: Good Jobs” program on this project.

Airports for the Future

By Elias Rassi
Wednesday morning at ACI-NA’s 2013 Marketing and Communications Conference featured one of the most popular and inspirational sessions from Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer Joe Tripodi. This blog isn’t about Tripodi’s presentation; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what it meant to the staff and guests to hear him speak.

Tripodi discussed Coke’s efforts to grow its brand and help connect customers to its various products through unique experiential marketing campaigns. Perhaps the most impressive happened in March 2013 when the company set out to break down barriers and create a simple moment of connection between two nations – India and Pakistan – in an initiative labeled as “Small World Machines.” These machines provided a live communications portal between people in both countries and showed the power of human connection far surpasses the differences that set us apart.

Tripodi also showcased how Coke bridged the gap between the creative side and the technical side by bringing people together with the sounds of their favourite sports during the 2012 Olympic summer games in London. The challenge there was to come up with a creative experience for visitors given the amount of space that was provided. What you’ll see and hear was a game changer at the Olympics for the fan experience.

Now, for the real point of this blog – talking about the session titled “Airports for the Future: Trend for Serving Tomorrow’s Travelers”. This session featured Bob Hazel, who is a partner at consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, and CNN Airport reporter Holly Firfer.

Oliver Wyman's Bob Hazel

Both Hazel and Firfer touched on something very important about the future of airports: the most successful airports realize that they are part of a competitive ecosystem, but are willing to work together to enhance the customer experience. Airports are taking experiences that travelers would see outside of the airport and bringing them as part of their overall travel experience, combining fitness (airport yoga, anyone?), fresh and healthy food, art exhibits, interactive directories, and communicating with passengers like never before. People are starting to realize that airports offer a lot more to the overall travel experience than the transition point between ground and air.

(The June edition of Centerlines also takes a look at this topic, including the unique way Finland’s airports sought to improve customer service.)

CNN Airport's Holly Firfer

And there is no doubt that, today, the airport experience is better for what it provides its customers.

Airports have a variety of customer groups and extend their focus beyond the airlines and airport environment. The most successful airports in the world understand strong customer orientation that speaks to each individual group and has a strategy in place to maximize their relationship. Creating a customer profile by segment will help understand which groups generate more revenue for the airports. Airports need to know as much as they can about their customers, about their behaviours and about their spending habits.  Over the past five years, airports and airlines have improved their relationship and it’s a sign that they are starting to truly understand each other’s business.

How we can talk about the future of, well, anything really, without talking about technology. Technology plays a significant role at our airports, and it’s important to use or invent your own innovations, create a unique amenity for users that they will love and helps create a unique identity for that airport.

As for what the future holds for airports, there are a few ideas from Hazel’s presentation:

  • Check-in process will likely disappear, moving towards automated processing and curb to plane experience will be more direct
  • Bag drop will be linked with automated recognition cards, making it quick and easy
  • Security will be better and more civilized, same with border control
  • Better dining and retail choices
  • Bag drop will be linked with automated recognition cards, making it quick and easy
  • Bag tracking like you would a package from FedEx or UPS, reducing the chance of losing luggage
  • Airports will focus on developing innovative customer services and look for ways to distinguish themselves and make themselves enchanting
  • Quite simply, as Firfer put it, airports are becoming mini-cities.

Life moves very fast and even faster once you’re in the airplane. So, take a moment, stop and look around the next time you’re at the airport. You may just realize how wonderful they truly are.

And, if you want more information, Hazel in 2012 wrote two reports looking down the road, The Future of Airports: Five Trends that Should Be on Every Airport’s Radar, and The Future of Airports: Eight Ways Airports Can Differentiate Themselves from Competitors


Wings for Autism to Expand

By Christine Cusatis, Centerlines Editor
Jennifer Robtoy of The Charles River Center said Wednesday that the Wings for Autism program, designed to familiarize autistic children with airports, will expand to four airports outside of New England through a grant from Autism Speaks.

Click for video

The grant also will fund production of a training video to provide TSA with awareness of the interpersonal communication skills needed to accommodate children with special needs.
Robtoy, along with Brad Martin of Boston Logan, spoke about the program during a session on Accessibility Beyond Government Requirements at the ACI-NA Customer Service Seminar near Jacksonville.. A joint effort of Boston Logan, TSA, JetBlue and The Charles River Center, the program has hosted 220 children and 920 family members to date in four sessions. Another session is scheduled for the Spring.

Though designed for autistic children, the program accommodates children with a variety of disabilities, guiding them through check-in, security and boarding. Robtoy said the children are “like snowflakes—no two are the same.” In this regard, the program provides an invaluable learning opportunity for children, parents and airport employees.

President Greg Principato said ACI-NA is fully supportive of efforts to expand Wings for Autism to airports nationwide.

For more information on Wings for Autism, contact Robtoy at

Cyber Security, Why Should You Care?

By Liying Gu
The ACI-NA Risk Management Committee kicked off the New Year with its 14th annual Risk Management Conference held in the warm and sunny Las Vegas with close to 140 attendees, very close to setting another new record.

The first day of the conference covered multiple risks airports are facing, from safety risk, wild life risk, environmental risk, cyber risk, event risk, construction risk, to enterprise risk and offered suggestions of risk identification and mitigation in a systematic manner.

Of all the risks covered, cyber security and the liability associated with the risk exposure is gaining more and more attention as the impact of mismanaging this risk can lead to significant consequences that includes regulatory actions, lawsuits and defense costs, and reputational damage.

According to the findings from the CyLab 2010 report by the Carnegie Mellon Governance of Enterprise Security, $214 per record is the average cost of a data breach, with an average total per-incident cost of $7.2 million in 2011; negligence is the leading cause of a data breach, at 41 percent of all reported cases; and 96 percent of breaches could have been avoided if reasonable data security controls had been in place at the time of incident. Data breach could lead to leakage of important information such as personal identification, financial account, patient healthcare, and corporate confidential information.

The two speakers Pam Townley, AVP of professional liability division of Chartis, and Jennifer Bolling, of Arthur J. Gallagher, recommended risk mitigation at the enterprise level. There needs to be commitment from senior level management. The company should use the most recent technologies and limit access to sensitive data. The company should understand the changing regulatory environment and implement plans to respond to a breach in a timely and compliant manner. There needs to be proper vetting of third party vendors and contract management. The company human resources should deploy proper hiring and termination techniques and provide employee training on how to classify and handle data. There needs to be safe and secure methods of disposing of data. The company should use a combination of physical security, written security policies and risk transfer to a third party such as insurance solutions to control the risks.

A Worldview on the Future of Aviation Security

By Christopher Bidwell
In the years since 9/11, governments have added more aviation security layers with each new threat. Simply continuing to do things the same way and add even more layers is not sustainable over the long term. Further, there is a general reluctance to rescind measures, even when the threat or countermeasures has evolved, due to the concern for being accused of being weak on security. Although security layers are necessary, they should be routinely assessed to gauge their effectiveness, and cost needs to be part of the equation.

With the United States, Canada and the European Union driving aviation security policy, there is an opportunity to preserve limited resources. Doing so necessitates increased collaboration and coordination between governments, and the need to develop mutually recognized security standards and screening technologies. As an example, the European Commission sets aviation security standards but many European Union countries impose additional measures, creating an uneven patchwork that perplexes even the most seasoned traveler. In many cases, passengers and baggage must be re-screened when crossing international borders.

In Europe, airports – not the government(s) – provide almost all the aviation security operational costs. Indeed, 29 percent of airports operating costs and 41 percent of airports staff are security related. With security costs increasing exponentially, there is even more need for a coordinated approach to aviation security.

As aviation traffic continues to grow, we need a risk-based aviation security system that uses available data to more effectively balance customer service and detection. Information is available at multiple points that can be readily utilized to help focus limited security resources on those about which the least is known. Following the roll out of TSA’s Risk-Based Security initiatives, the European Commission has accepted the idea of risk-based security and has embarked on an industry-government working group to develop a model. Similarly, in Canada aviation regulators have embarked upon a risk-based program to streamline the security process for travelers enrolled in the Nexus program.

In needing to plan for the future aviation security system that harnesses the risk-based strategy, the International Civil Aviation Organization has established a Next Generation Screening Checkpoint Technical Advisory Group. ACI, in partnership with other aviation organizations, and regulatory authorities is participating on the advisory group to design a future system capable of maintaining the appropriate level of detection while increasing efficiency and reasonable costs, so that it is sustainable in the long term.