Monthly Updates

2019 in Review


Dear Member,

We hope you are keeping well. As we approach the festive season and the end of 2019, we wanted to take the opportunity to review all the great things we have achieved together over the last twelve months.

Working for you in Westminster
As you are probably aware, the last twelve months in Westminster have been changeable and challenging. Business has had to grapple with an unpredictable parliament, an unexpected General Election and a change of government. The Aviation sector has faced a number of further challenges, specifically the arrival of a new Secretary of State for Transport and a significant churn of junior ministers and civil servants.Despite these significant challenges, the AOA has continued to robustly represent members’ interests in Westminster with a programme of extensive engagement with ministers, civil servants and parliamentarians.

This year the AOA met with the three aviation ministers (Baronesses Sugg and Vere, as well as the current minister Paul Maynard MP) more than once a month and with Civil Servants from across Whitehall more than once every week! Working in collaboration with its members, the Association also delivered an eighty-seven-page response to the consultation on the Government’s Aviation 2050 Green Paper and also assisted members in composing their own responses. In response to Parliament’s decision to call an early General Election, the AOA also released its own manifesto which you can read here.

Meanwhile, the AOA continued its engagement with the full range of Government stakeholders beyond the Department for Transport. 2019 saw the launch of a series of workshops with Border Force on the use of future technologies at the frontier and extensive engagement with the Department of International Trade and others on Free Ports.

More broadly, the AOA has continued to represent the interests of the sector in the media. Karen Dee (AOA Chief Executive) and Henk van Klaveren (AOA Head of Public Affairs) featured on numerous TV and radio interviews on subjects ranging from Drones and Borders to Brexit and Disruptive Passengers. The Association also released the 2019 edition of “Airport Matters”, a 30-minute television programme, produced by ITN Productions. You can watch the full programme here.

Facilitating knowledge sharing, policy development and networking

This year the Association delivered over 200 hours of events and meetings for its members; facilitated the operation of 11 member working groups and hosted two major industry conferences & three aviation networking dinners. Highlights from this year’s jam-packed calendar of events include:

  • The AOA Annual Dinner in March which, with well over eight hundred attendees, retained the title of the best attended black tie aviation networking dinner in Europe;
  • This year’s UK Airports Safety Week, which featured more airports, partner organisations and safety initiatives than even before, as well as visiting delegations from other European airports.
  • The one-year anniversary of AOA’s Airspace & Air Traffic Services (AATS) Group, which coincided with its best attended meeting ever.
  • Frontpage coverage for the Safeguarding Working Group in the International Airport Review.
  • The AOA’s first ever Airports Conference, which was held in June at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. The two-day event featured representatives from across AOA’s working groups and offered a greatly valued opportunity to discuss technical challenges and network with colleagues.
  • The Association hosted its flagship Annual Conference on the 28th and 29th November at County Hall in Central London. Over thirty UK airports and airport groups were represented at the event, which featured wide-ranging discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing the sector. Topics covered included climate change & resilience, infrastructure investment, the state of the UK economy & politics and improving the UK’s connectivity. Find out more about the event here.

Working with the regulator
Over the last year, the Association has engaged extensively with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and worked with them to develop a series of initiatives benefiting AOA members. Acting on the advice of our Security Group, the AOA and CAA launched the Medical Device Awareness Card earlier this year. The card streamlines the travel experience for passengers with medical devices by providing guidance to passengers and security agents as to the correct process at the checkpoint. Meanwhile, the AOA continued to engage with the CAA on counter-drone policy and was instrumental in reducing the cost of the new Drone Registration Scheme.At the AOA’s best attended meeting of the year, the CAA’s Principle Airspace Regulator delivered a “lunch-and-learn” workshop to AOA members on Airspace Change Proposals (ACPs). Specifically, the session focussed on the new Planned & Permanent Redistribution of Traffic (PPR) process and the relationship between CAP1616 and the Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) processes.

Delivering cross-sector initiatives that benefit the industry

Over the last twelve months, the AOA has worked alongside representatives from related sectors to deliver mutually beneficial initiatives. Disruptive passengers have rarely been out of the news this year and in response we are working with our partners from the One Too Many campaign to produce a second version of the Aviation Code of Practice on Disruptive Passengers.Meanwhile, the AOA joined cross-industry efforts to secure no-deal contingency arrangements for aviation on both the EU and UK sides and continued its work with Sustainable Aviation. Sustainable Aviation is a long-term strategy which sets out the collective approach of UK aviation to tackling the challenge of ensuring a cleaner, quieter, smarter future for our industry. Keep an eye out for Sustainable Aviation’s new Carbon Roadmap, which is expected to be published early in the New Year.

Finally, working in conjunction with NATS, the AOA established the Our Future Skies campaign. The campaign promotes airspace modernisation and has now been handed over to the Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG). The AOA is represented on the ACOG Steering Committee and has developed a strong relationship with the ACOG team; who many of you will have met at our Annual Conference.

Plans for 2020

The recent Election means that things are set to change again: we now have a new Government with a large majority and with a renewed determination to make progress in a number of these critical areas. That could be good news for airports. But it also means that, as a sector, we need to be ready to engage effectively with Parliament, with Ministers, with civil servants and with the press to influence the Government’s agenda and ensure the airports’ voice is heard.In preparation for this, at its meeting in November the AOA Board approved a strategy aimed at supporting an enhanced role for AOA on behalf of members. Key parts of this will be upgrading our media relations activity to raise AOA’s profile in the press and investing in additional resource to support our work in key policy areas including sustainability.  At the same time, we will be reviewing AOA branding and our website and other communications channels to make sure that they are fit for this new, enhanced purpose. Work will begin on this early in the New Year and we very much hope that you will notice a significantly enhanced offer as we progress through the year.

2020 no doubt will bring some challenging times, both for the wider UK and for our sector in particular. But with your support and backing as members, AOA will be well placed to address these head-on.

Yours Sincerely,

The AOA Team

Airport Operators Association
3 Birdcage Walk, London SW1H 9JJ

Contact the AOA Team
Karen Dee, Chief Executive –
Robert Adderley, Events & Member Relations Manager –
Henk van Klaveren,  Head of Public Affairs & PR  –
Jeff Bevan, Policy & Public Affairs Officer –

Patricia Page, Executive Assistant & Office Manager –
Richard Atkin, Accounts Executive –
Tania Roca, Operations, Safety & Commercial Director have updated our Privacy Notice in line with GDPR, to view click here.Together with our Corporate Partners