30 Years of Coordination Excellence
This year, we’re proud to say, Airport Coordination Limited celebrates its 30th Anniversary. Since beginning with five airports in 1991, with the trust of our colleagues and customers, ACL has grown to become the world’s largest, and most well-respected, independent airport slot coordinator. Now serving over 70 airports worldwide, we’ve loved being a part of the aviation story. We’re proud of how slot coordination has shaped our industry, allowing airports to advance and grow.
Achieving the best solutions and services for our customers is what motivates us. We will continue to evolve and improve, making sure we’re with you for another thirty years and beyond, providing the solutions to drive our industry forward.
Read on as we share some of our company’s highlights; our memories past and present; and the expert services ACL has to offer.
Before Independence: British Airways and British Caledonian
Prior to the requirement for independent coordinators, airport coordination was organised by the flag carrier of a country. In the UK, this was done by British Airways. A single carrier deciding the fate of sought-after runway slots, however, was not a particularly fair system. In the early 90s, therefore, the industry began discussing the need for EU slot regulation and independent coordination. Pre-empting this decision, the coordination department at British Airways was segregated from the airline and in 1991 an impassioned team of coordinators formed Airport Coordination Limited (ACL).
The World’s first Independent Coordinator
Starting with a team of ten experts, ACL was founded as an independent, non-profit making company in 1991. Our formation preceded the EU Commission’s recommendation for neutral, transparent, and independent coordinators and this dedication to independence and transparency has continued throughout our history. ACL was assigned as the UK coordinator responsible for coordination at five of Britain’s largest airports as well as Bermuda Airport, in the then British territory in the North Atlantic.
Seamless Excellence: Partnership with PDC
As our success and portfolio grew, we realised we would need a sophisticated and reliable coordination software system to match. In 2001 ACL switched to PDC’s Score, beginning a partnership with PDC which lasts through to today. A programme of innovation began at ACL and a one-million-pound project was launched to create Super Score. This paved the way to automation, better reporting, and the creation of an online coordination system. Automation within the new system was a game changer and allowed us to progress with more airports without the need for further staff.
Bringing Coordination Online: The Creation of OCS
With automation a success, it was time to take coordination online and permit airlines to self-service their slot requests. In 2003 ACL partnered again with PDC in the creation of an Online Coordination System (OCS). OCS provided airlines with an instant response, preventing needless delays, and enabling coordinators to focus more on finding solutions where constraints are impacted. Without OCS it is calculated ACL would need twenty extra coordinators to handle our workload. Today, OCS is used across the world by over 30 coordinators, over 300 operators and up to a thousand users.
New Horizons: ACL Sets up its first Overseas Office in Dubai, UAE
After gaining the reputation as the world’s leading coordinator, when Dubai Airports needed an independent coordinator with experience, ACL was held up to the task. ACL began data collection services at Dubai International Airport (DXB) in 2009 and quickly progressed to coordination. As part of the service DXB required a local representative and so ACL’s first overseas office was established. Today, ACL has four offices across three continents including two in the UK, one in Dubai and another in New Zealand, set up in 2012.
UK Coordination takes centre stage: London 2012 Olympics
Described by some as ACL’s most enjoyable project, ACL went to 24-hour working in 2012 for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the Games, the Department for Transport reclassified all airports in the South of England as requiring coordination. This resulted in ACL overseeing an additional 36 airports and coordinating close to 100,000 slots. The project marked the beginning of ACL’s foray into Special Event Coordination which has since seen us coordinate major world, and sporting, events such as the UEFA Champion’s League, rugby Six Nations, G20, NATO Heads of States and FIFA World Cup.
The foundation of ACL International
By 2014 ACL’s international portfolio had expanded and we were getting more and more successful abroad. To maintain the integrity of our non-profit work in the UK, ACL incorporated a new company, ACL International in 2014. The move ensured the success and expansion of ACL International while continuing ACL’s commitment to transparency and maintaining the independence of UK funding. Today ACL coordinates 45 airports around the globe, including 23 overseas airports, spread across 4 continents.
The big upgrade: ACL moves its data centre to Codestone
After the Head of Information Services was seen kicking too many slow machines at ACL Head Quarters, it was recognised ACL’s growing size required a superior IT infrastructure to continue. In 2015 ACL moved our data centres to Codestone, gaining a more reliable, secure, and supportive infrastructure for our people and our customers. The service levels ACL now offers would not have been possible without the hardware, connectivity, and support Codestone offers. Not to mention the protection it has provided to our Head of Information Services’ toes!
Strategic Data: Embracing Power BI and Smart Data
Our coordination work generates mountains of data which has always been crucial in helping our customers manage their airports and is essential for businesses who purchase ACL’s schedule data. Since 2019 we’ve taken this data further. By embracing Power BI, ACL now loads data into interactive dashboards with easy-to-understand and appealing visualisations. The new format allows us to take smart data further. In the future ACL hope to produce live and interactive feeds in real time, enabling our customers to make intelligent and informed strategic decisions about their businesses.
30 years of excellence
This year, we’re proud to say, ACL celebrate 30 years of coordination excellence. From the wacky antics of conferences in the 90s, to the virtual meetings of today, we’ve loved every second spent with our customers. We’re immensely proud of the trust customers have placed in us and the determination of our people to seek the most inventive solutions. From airports who have been with us from the very beginning to the latest newcomers, we’ve loved being your coordinator and are excited to serve you for another 30 years…and beyond!