Ruud Ummels on his role within ACI-Europe

In early November 2021, I was re-elected for a second 3-year term to represent ACI-Europe’s World Business Partners (WBP) on the WBP Advisory Board (WBPAB). Three years ago, it might have been a surprise to see my name pop up next to Chris Chalk from Mott MacDonald who then just started his second term. This time I see it as a confirmation that the members appreciate all that I have done for them over the past three years. But still, you might ask yourself, what is it that ACI and the WBPAB do, how did I get involved, and why do I keep investing my time in it? So, let’s share my story here in this blog.

Airports Council International (ACI) is the global trade organization of airport operators. Their prime purpose is to represent and lead the airport industry. By fostering cooperation amongst airports, aviation organizations and world business partners, ACI makes a significant contribution to providing the traveling public with an air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible. ACI consists of five geographical regions (Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia Pacific) and it has its headquarters in Montréal.

The WBP programme is an essential component of ACI. The programme provides a platform for businesses to interact, collaborate, and exchange expertise with airports, build a network, and explore business opportunities. Like airport operators, WBPs join one of ACI’s five regions. An Advisory Board (WBPAB), with representatives from each ACI Region, provides leadership to the WBP programme.

My personal ACI journey started just over eight years ago when I attended my first ACI meeting in Kuala Lumpur. I was asked to give a presentation about successful strategies in aircraft noise management and the importance of communication. I shared the work we were doing in Australia for some of the capital city airports and for the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing best practices with other experts and airport members and together we explored solutions best suited for the regional environmental conditions.

After returning to Europe in 2015, I joined ACI-Europe’s Environmental Strategy Committee. The Committee members meet twice a year to discuss a wide range of topics on sustainability, climate change, aircraft noise and airport carbon accreditation. At the same time another colleague joined the Technical, Operations & Safety Committee. Being a part of these committees allowed us to learn from other members, share our knowledge and experience, impact policy decisions and contribute to the various position papers and guidance documents supporting the airport industry. And it has really helped us to build our network and grow our business in Europe.

From that time, I also started attending the annual general assembly and conference where many airport executives and WBPs meet. Over the years, the short conversations you can have at these events have also proven to be of real value. Where it is sometimes difficult to set up a meeting with a senior executive during the year, there is always time to catch up, share ideas and socialise at these events. Over time, I was asked to start contributing more actively by giving presentations, joining or moderating panel discussions at these and other ACI events in the different regions. Then I was elected onto the WBP Advisory Board, allowing me to work with the other regions.

And then the pandemic hit… Even though many of our airport clients and other WBPs went into survival or even hibernation mode, we also witnessed the value of ACI as our trade organization. New task forces were set up to deal with the crisis, a lot of advocacy work was done to ensure safe travel, we received regular COVID-19 updates from the ACI leadership that provided extremely valuable information and for the WBPs we started running webinars where they could showcase their innovative ideas to support the airports in restarting their operations. We, the different regions, the airport operators and the WBPs, all stood together. This strong feeling of community for the airport ecosystem made me decide to put my name forward for another three years as a representative of the European WBPs. It is a huge honour to continue this work and of course I want to thank everyone who voted for me. Lastly, I hope this story inspires others to work together in sharing share their expertise through the various committees, contributing to global policies, and helping to develop best practices.

About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. To achieve this, policy and business decisions have to be based on objective information. With our diverse team of specialists and generalists to70 provides pragmatic solutions and expert advice, based on high-quality data-driven analyses. For more information, please refer to

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One thought on “Ruud Ummels on his role within ACI-Europe

  1. Thank you Ruud for your dedication and tireless efforts to help all WBPs and pushing hard for our industry’s recovery!

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