1.- As the new Vice President of the Board of Directors of ACI-LAC, in your opinion, what will be the main challenges for the sector for this new year?
I can say that 2021 leaves us with a message of optimism when we look ahead for several reasons: the vaccination process in Latin America and the Caribbean is going very well compared to other regions and the traveler already has the confidence to move. We see how several countries in the region have had a good recovery of their passenger traffic and capacity, as is the case of Mexico, which was only 10% below pre-pandemic levels in October 2021, or the Dominican Republic, which was only 5% below. This gives hope that in 2022 the recovery of the industry will continue in the region as a whole.
Despite this encouraging outlook, there are still challenges to be addressed. With the emergence of new COVID19 variants, the industry continues. This is why it is important to remain vigilant and remember that air transport is not a vector of contagion.
Equally, it is essential that airports and governments do not neglect the economic sustainability of the industry, and the pending investments to remain competitive. To achieve this, it is essential to work together since most airports in the region are managed by private actors and it is necessary to propose solutions that do not increase the operating costs of airlines, but that do not affect the economic recovery of air terminals and therefore of travel.
Another of the great challenges facing the region is for countries to accept the vaccines of others, a process that has been very slow and that currently has little justification. That is why ACI-LAC is working to ensure that there is mutual recognition of the certificates issued in each country.
We are also working to ensure that the necessary investments are made to ensure that cargo is handled in a modern, efficient and safe manner.
2.- One of the crucial issues for the airport industry is decarbonization. ACI members have set a sectoral goal of zero net emissions by 2050. What do you think this process will look like for airports in Latin America and the Caribbean? What role should airports play in the process of decarbonization of the air transport industry?
Airports are currently working very hard to limit carbon dioxide emissions through the installation of photovoltaic generation parks for the production of solar energy, as well as other types of solutions that, in addition to reducing CO2 emissions, make operations more efficient and economical.
Airports are aware of the challenge, the commitment is clear and they are already working on introducing the necessary actions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The role to be played by airports will be fundamental, providing the necessary infrastructure for the new types of aircraft expected to operate in the future. Three types in particular: SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel), which is the most logical route at the moment, but then there are two more challenges that are totally new, such as hydrogen-powered and electric aircraft. We are still at a very early stage there, trying to understand exactly what infrastructure investments are needed to meet those demands.
3.- VINCI Airports Group, of which AERODOM has been a part since 2016, is recognized worldwide for its commitment to sustainability in the sector. What would you highlight about the environmental efforts dedicated by AERODOM at all the airports it manages?
In line with VINCI Airports’ AirPact strategy, AERODOM has placed a special focus on the environmental management of its airports, looking after biodiversity and green spaces, reducing water consumption, facilitating waste sorting and recycling, reducing energy consumption and taking advantage of renewable energies. Between 2017 and 2019, the six airports managed by the company reduced their CO2 emissions per passenger by 20%, equivalent to 1,500 metric tons per year, despite the growth in passengers and operations experienced during the period. This important effort was recognized by obtaining Level 2 “Reduction” in the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) Program, granted by ACI-LAC.
Currently, AERODOM has photovoltaic generation parks in all its facilities with an installed capacity of 6.8MW, being the main private self-generator of solar energy in the country.
We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint in every way possible and we remain actively exploring a range of new technologies that will further reduce emissions from our airport operations.
4.- In a market that is still mostly male but with many valuable professional women emerging in executive positions, you stand out as a successful CEO of an airport network in the Dominican Republic. What has your experience been like in the more than 10 years you have been in the airport industry and what advice would you give to women starting out in the industry?
One of the obstacles that women face in their professional lives is the so-called glass ceiling, an invisible barrier that prevents them from progressing in their careers and reaching managerial positions or positions of greater responsibility.
In my case, from 2009 to 2011 I served as Legal Director of the company, and since 2012 I was offered the opportunity to occupy the general management of the company.
AERODOM since its inception has been a visionary company that has trusted and given opportunities to women. Unfortunately this reality is not the norm in all companies, so I recognize that my case remains an exception and not a rule.
I am confident that more and more we will see greater participation of women, and that it will be possible to break those glass ceilings that often hold back female participation in leadership positions.
The most difficult glass ceiling to break is the one we impose on ourselves. The burden of raising children falls on women and this sets back their careers, imposes additional burdens on them or forces them to make choices. This is a very important filter, and this is even more true in Latin America because of the culture. That’s why I tell them to dare to dream and have confidence in their ability.