ACI awards Istanbul Airport two prizes and a seat at its Europe Governing Board

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Airports Council International (ACI) has elected Istanbul Airport’s CEO to the ACI Europe Governing Board and awarded the airport the “Accessible Airport” and “Best Airport in Europe” prizes in the category of over 40 million passengers.

The CEO of iGA Istanbul Airport, Kadri Samsunlu, was elected to the ACI Europe Governing Board, at the ACI Europe Annual Congress and General Assembly. Samsunlu was elected within a quota reserved for the 10 largest airports in Europe, taking his place as the first and only board member from Turkey among 10 airports. Accepting his position, Samsunlu stated that they took firm steps forward without deviating from their sustainability goals during the pandemic. Mentioning the plan to have net-zero emissions in all operations by 2050, Samsunlu stated that strengthening ACI’s relationship with the Turkish aviation sector at all levels and easing travel restrictions are among the prioritized targets during his term.

This year ACI also launched the “Net Zero 2050” movement with the goal of mobilizing the industry to combat the climate crisis and decrease the carbon footprint of airports during the last period. As a result, this year the Airports Council International’s Europe Awards focused on Covid-19 improvements and sustainability for the evaluation process by adding “Resilience and Inspiration” to their standard award criteria. Amid the negative effects of the pandemic on the sector, Istanbul Airport was acknowledged for its crisis management and ensured transportation and trade.

It was Istanbul Airport’s accessibility culture and barrier-free airport concept that won the airport the “Accessible Airport” prize. At the event, the airport drew attention to its variety of accessibility services, such as special passenger service points that were built on the land and airsides of the terminal, a video call center, Loud Steps, and adult changing rooms. Having met all of the competition’s accessibility standards – priority entrance, accessible elevator, vehicle parking points, accessible route, very special guest card, and sunflower lanyard – Istanbul Airport was recognized for raising awareness, providing above-average service and adopting the “everyone has the right to travel” principle.

In his celebratory speech Samsunlu said, “During a time when only cargo flights and evacuation operations continued and flights could not be made, we did not say, ‘Oh well, these are the conditions,’ and stand still. We looked for ways to welcome our passengers in a healthier and safer manner and provide our employees with a safe working environment. With our efforts, we have led the way to enable people to return to their old flight habits, and we have built trust. In the future, we aim to expand our service scope regarding “Accessible Route”, to excel in our services by continuing our airport experience studies with different disability groups, and to make the applications we have implemented for a more accessible world widespread.”

Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe general director, said, “During these extraordinary and difficult times our industry has found itself in, Istanbul Airport showed great endurance by focusing on investments and infrastructure. The fact they have won not one but two awards, with the Best Airport Award and the Accessible Airport Reward, is a telltale sign of how they maintained their unmatched hospitality towards their passengers while not giving up on their long-term goals for their business and community. I am more than happy to witness the celebration of their two achievements. I am looking forward to seeing what this innovative and exciting airport will achieve in the future.”

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