In Talks With... Alejandro Cobián Bustamante General Director, Cámara Nacional De Aerotransportes (CANAERO)

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This month we caught up with advisory board member Alejandro Cobián Bustamante, General Director, Cámara Nacional de Aerotransportes – CANAERO, who has a Bachelor of Laws from Universidad Anáhuac del Sur, Graduate studies in Civil Procedure and Commercial Law (UP). He specialised in the aviation and regulatory sectors for over 10 years. Areas of expertise include Administrative, Aviation, Corporate and Labor Law, Contracts, Regulatory Affairs, Managing Relationships with Government Authorities in the Sector, Union Relationships, Compliance and Corporate Governance.

What are the key new innovations you think are going to change the airport industry (for example, security, safety, passenger experience, passenger flow in airports, etc.) and what are the potential challenges in this field?  

With the implementation of new and improved technologies in the aeronautics industry, the airport experience is advancing in step. To a large extent, it is the airlines, along with aircraft manufacturers, that set the pace. We can immediately see this is the case if we compare the airport and travel experiences in general that we have today with those of a few years ago, where currently there is not necessarily a general inclination towards high or low-end markets, but rather a palpable increase in each and every travel experience. In other words, whether referring to budget, luxury travel, or the tourist experience, we find palpable changes in all of them.

 A decade ago, only visionaries could conceive of check-in over the internet, or even via a smartphone. Today, this is a completely normal passenger-airport-airline interaction. However, the experience changes gradually as boarding time approaches, where, depending on the cost of the ticket, it is possible to access a priority zone of the airport or an airline executive lounge, while elsewhere, the passenger checks their luggage at a completely automated counter and interaction with airport or airline personnel is reduced to a minimum.

While it is true that this type of experience is common in the Americas, the apex of different travel experiences is found on the Asian continent, and just slightly above that, the European, where the travel experiences offered are as diverse as their prices:  at one end of the spectrum, the service offered is simple: travel. Nothing more and nothing less; checking-in, boarding the airplane and disembarking from it after the trip is over. In other cases, the experience is more ample and complex, and the travel experience may even begin from the trip to the airport in a luxury car, via an executive room offering showers or massages, boarding the airplane through an exclusive area and arriving at a totally personal cabin that might be described as having an apartment in the air. 

So, the innovations we find in the airport industry are as varied as the airlines, and it is exactly there that we find one of greatest challenges for the airport industry that is no more or less important than the very growth of the entire aviation industry: maintaining, improving and developing new ways to supply the products offered by the airlines and entering a new era of airport-airline synchronization where the airline offers a new product, and the airport, whether through its infrastructure, logistics or direct intervention, responds to synchronize its operations with the travel experience.   

Why do you think that Mexico and the Latin American region are particularly important for airport development?

Latin America is one of the aeronautical industry markets that has seen the most growth in the last few years and has one of the best forecasts to continue in this line. In the same vein, the market has been radically reorganized in the last five years, doubtlessly because of the creation of regional airline alliances encompassing a much larger and more complex market. The repercussions for airport development are clear: more routes from different locations, as well as more frequent routes and more competitiveness on the market to take advantage of a higher density of passengers transported by the different Latin American airlines

From a legal point of view, it is also worth mentioning the various bilateral and regional agreements that have been executed recently, such as the recent bilateral agreement between Mexico and the United States.

Along the same lines, another point to make is that, perhaps as an immediate result of the aforementioned factors, there has been a boom in airport infrastructure, with the most recent experience being the El Dorado airport in Bogotá and the New Airport in Mexico City.

Lastly, globalization is undoubtedly a phenomenon that is still affecting airport development and expansion and will do so for a long time. This is driven by opening new commercial routes linking the Latin American region with the Middle East and Asia.

 

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