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Air traffic controllers signal event sector resilience

Air traffic hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet, but the recent Air Traffic Management (ATM) Congress in Madrid proved there is still a desire to travel and meet.

More than 6,000 delegates, representing 110 nations gathered in Madrid to attend the World Air Traffic Management Congress in October.

The congress is organised by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) in partnership with the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) with the aim of bringing together the world’s leading product developers, experts, stakeholders, and air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

The event was opened by His Majesty the King of Spain, who is also a trained pilot. His opening remarks recognised the difficulty the sector has faced in the last 20 months but acknowledge its gradual recovery.

“Spain is a gateway to the world, so air transport has huge strategic and economic importance throughout the country. And nothing exemplifies that more than being able to host World ATM Congress,” he said.

“Being able to organise this conference once again is solid proof that we are witnessing steady and sustained recovery of the entire air sector, of which Spain is a standard-bearer.”

The congress organisers, Kenes Group, echoed the monarch’s statement and said that the World ATM Congress 2021 “is evidence of air sector resiliency and recovery, but for us as the organisers, this was also an important testament for the return of large in-person meetings and events.”

The congress saw 170 exhibitors, product demonstrations and an educational offering featuring 120 sessions and 200 speakers across seven theatres. Topics discussed focused on the sector’s resilience, working around disruptive factors such as pandemics, weather, political issues, and the need to have a flexible approach and the development of more digital systems.

Greener aviation was also high on the agenda, with solutions including more precise route planning and traffic management to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The event was organised with a strict hygiene protocol, as well as with tightened security due to the event’s high-profile visitors. Some of the COVID safety measures included a strict mask mandate for indoor use and seated options for all food and beverage related services.

IFEMA, the host venue, took temperature checks upon entry while offering enhanced ventilation. The organisers also requested either a COVID certificate or a negative test to permit visitors and exhibitors to the venue, while also offering contactless registration.

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