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The largest air traffic management congress returns safely to Madrid

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Kenes Group organises a safe and improved World ATM Congress, signifying the resilience of both the aviation and event industries.

The world’s largest international air traffic management (ATM) exhibition and conference -World ATM Congress- returned to Madrid, Spain. More than 6,000 delegates from 110 countries gathered safely. The event was inaugurated by His Majesty the King of Spain, in evidence of the air sector resiliency and recovery. This was the first time that the event featured Spain’s premier drone event, Expodrónica, and partnered with UMILES – Spain’s largest consortium of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) companies. 

The World ATM congress gathered 6,000 delegates from 110 countries for three days in Madrid. More than 170 companies exhibited, and the educational offering featured 120 sessions and 200 speakers spread out in seven theatres. The three days of the event were packed with educational sessions, product demonstrations and launches, contract closures, and network building. The event hosted product developers, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), air traffic controllers, and leading academic experts at the largest ATM event in the world.  

His Majesty the King of Spain inaugurated the show. While the Spanish Monarch says World ATM Congress 2021 is evidence of air sector resiliency and recovery, for the organisers, Kenes Group Madrid Office, this was also an important testament for the return of large in-person meetings and events.  

With a nod and a smile to his fellow pilots and all other representatives of the air traffic industry, His Majesty King Felipe VI kicked off World ATM Congress 2021. “I would like to make my first words be the warmest welcome possible to the 6,000 professionals from more than 100 countries here today,” His Majesty said. “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.”  

Air traffic is not yet fully back to pre-pandemic levels, yet there is a positive return to the sky. Some of the topics discussed focused on the sector’s resilience, working around disruptive factors as pandemics, weather, political issues, and the need to have a flexible approach and the development of more digital systems. Greener aviation and solutions that provide more precise route planning and traffic management to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, were also topics of high interest on the show floor. 

The World ATM Congress returned with improvements – featuring Spain’s premier drone event, Expodrónica, which was co-located with the World ATM Congress, and partnering with UMILES – Spain’s largest consortium of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) companies. 

The Expodrónica Pavilion showed the sky of the future. “The energy coming from the drone industry has meant that in less than a decade it has gone from being a product for the leisure industry to be the solution concerning safety, emergencies or rescue services,“ explains Isabel Buatas, director of Expodrónica.  

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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