This year’s World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos (with such important leaders as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) also included Martín Eurnekian, the CEO of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 and Corporación América Airports, who has been chairing the Forum’s Industry Community for Aviation, Travel and Tourism (a sector accounting for 10 percent of jobs worldwide) throughout last year.
Interviewed by Argentine media Infobae and Perfil, he said: “2019 will be a year of many challenges for the company. Last year’s crisis affected us just like everybody else, but despite that the number of passengers in Argentina continues to grow. That’s a big incentive to keep investing.”
In between the global agenda at Davos (including travel safety, the future of employment, sustainability and digital platforms), Eurnekian turned his attention to Argentina: “The worst is over and the adjustments made, we can now proceed from a more solid base with greater protection against any disruptive event being as serious as last year. If we come out of the turbulence we suffered last year, the tourist potential is huge. I’m definitely optimistic.”
But the CEO would not rule out future turbulence, saying that this depended on both domestic factors (interest rates and the harvest) and external, and, of course, the elections although he did think that Davos served to lower the decibels of international trade tensions, especially between China and the United States.
At a joint appearance with Transport Minister Guillermo Dietrich, Eurnekian detailed the plans of AA 2000 (which runs 35 local airports as well as 17 others in Armenia, Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay) for this year, including “very relevant” infrastructural works in Ezeiza, Iguazú, Córdoba and Aeroparque, the modernisation of Comodoro Rivadavia, Jujuy and San Juan airports and new runways in Mendoza, Tucumán and Formosa.
The same week saw the announcement of a 620-million-peso joint investment by the state and AA2000 in the expanding Santa Rosa airport, as well as renovating its runway and lighting and beaconing systems.
Regarding sister republics in South America, Eurnekian complimented Bolsonaro on his protagonism and on “a very good presentation and leaving a very good image,” as did his Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, of heading a capable team with a “correct ideological base” (AA2000’s 52 airports include Brasilia). But with reference to the escalation of the Venezuelan crisis during the Forum he warned that if Argentina did not “watch out,” Venezuela’s “degradation” could happen here.
Together with Tourism Secretary Gustavo Santos, the AA2000 CEO described last year’s dialogue with the government in the three key areas of connectivity and its challengers, the quest for greater efficiency in travel promotion and safety. Eurnekian also described the global advances in the revolutionary blockchain passport due to be implemented at the end of this year after pilot tests in Canada and Holland alongside the progress here with automatic biometric gateways, thus speeding up entry into this country and keeping growth going.
Asked by Perfil about the Forum beyond Argentine issues, Eurnekian described himself as most impressed by the new industrial revolution (artificial intelligence and the effect of all the new technology on productivity and the cost of labour) and the fact that climate change now enters into every item of the agenda when previously it had been an issue apart.