Filling in the gaps – Global Conversations: CEO Series


Conor Mullan, Associate Member Representative of the Executive Committee and Managing Director of Think Research Ltd, shares his key takeaways from the CANSO CEO Series.

Over the course of four weeks in May and June I had the pleasure of hosting CANSO’s Global Conversations: CEO Series with three ANSP CEOs from around the globe. Michiel van Dorst (LVNL), Gilbert Kibe (KCAA) and Graeme Sumner (Airways New Zealand) all spoke very honestly about the situations their respective organisations are in and their plans – and hopes – for the future.  

In total, 550 attendees from over 140 organisations tuned in to learn how our three interviewees are dealing with the sudden and dramatic downturn in air traffic as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

For sure, all CANSO members are feeling some pain right now. Indeed, without various forms of government support each of the three ANSPs I spoke to would have been in even more serious difficulty. But perhaps we knew that much already. What we wanted to know was; “OK… now what?”

Across the conversations a number of things became clear to me but I’ll focus on three common themes here:

  1. A new resilience. In ATM we used to talk about the resilience of systems, resilience against weather, resilience against cyberattacks or capacity resilience. We didn’t speak much about business resilience. Airlines could fail but we couldn’t. That’s no longer the case. We need to address business resilience, in the context of traffic resilience.
  2. Sustainability. We have already seen a call from CANSO for the aviation industry to “build back better” by reducing carbon emissions from flying in the most efficient way. Each CEO echoed and emphasised that this is a once-in-a-generation chance to change our environmental footprint. Expect sustainability to be top of the agenda in the coming years.
  3. Added value. Good news for Associate Members – investment in new ATM systems is still taking place! But the focus has inevitably shifted and added value is even more important than ever. With budgets squeezed all over the world, the distinction between cost and value has never been clearer.

Those are just some of the points I noted from the conversations and I hope all those that attended or watch on catch-up later find something useful to take away.

My thanks to Michiel, Gilbert and Graeme for allowing me the opportunity to speak with them on behalf of CANSO members.