After a year and a half of canceled or solely virtual conferences, the return to in-person attendance at the 93rd Annual American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Conference and Exposition was a welcome experience. Showcasing the resilience of the entire industry, airport and aviation executives gathered in Las Vegas to highlight the latest and greatest in innovative air travel technology.

Here are some of the top takeaways from the show:

The conference began with two VIPs thanking attendees and sharing some of their insights on the state of aviation. The first was Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak who spoke about the importance of airports for the successful operation of cities like Las Vegas who rely on the free movement that airplanes and airports provide.

Given the slowdown of travel during the pandemic, Sisolak encouraged participants to continue working on bringing back air travel safely and celebrated the work that has already been done.

The second VIP was U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg who attended virtually and stressed how infrastructure is a critical part of the national economy. Secretary Buttigieg emphasized the return of moving passengers and cargo is a critical step that precedes a fully powered U.S. economy.

Joining the Secretary in envisioning a bright future ahead for the industry was John Faucher, Group Leader for Aviation at Mead & Hunt. Faucher lead participants through some of his biggest lessons learned while chairing the AAAE Corporate Committee.

Faucher emphasized the communal nature of the challenges facing airports in the near future and encouraged participants to prioritize collaboration to ensure a safe return for passengers. He also highlighted the strides made during the pandemic including the digital transformation of workplaces. Faucher concluded that while work may be done at home, it still is up to professional organizations like AAAE and airports themselves to make sure that everyone in the industry remains connected.

Few displays at AAAE more clearly illustrated the potential benefits of the digital transformation than the ABM Industries booth. The demonstration there covered the role that airports can fill as electric cars become more common, namely as a resource to ensure they are charged and ready to drive once the passenger returns from their flight.

They also highlighted how the use of modern technology can assist with the facilities management of an airport. Often unseen by passengers, these crucial team members bear outsized responsibility for helping airports demonstrate their commitment to passenger safety. Providing both facilities management and janitorial staff with the means to keep surfaces clean and trash out of sight helps create an environment that can resonate with passengers.

While in the end, AAAE was an opportunity to learn from each other, Kevin Burke, President and CEO of the Airports Council International (ACI) – North America, provide a perspective that every participant can share. After a long and difficult time, one of the most important parts of AAAE was seeing and interacting with industry colleagues in-person once again.

To learn more about the 93rd Annual AAAE Conference and Exposition, click here.

About Kevin Tierney

Kevin is an Editor for Connected Aviation Today and contributes content and helps drive the editorial strategy for the site. Kevin covers a wide range of topics at the intersection of public sector technology and federal government modernization initiatives. Kevin brings to the team his background in US Government operations and various technology channels specifically cloud based information sharing services and monitoring platforms.