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William E. Downes Jr. Memorial Award

First presented in 1978, The William E. Downes, Jr. Memorial Award is ACI-NA’s most prestigious award.

Bill Downes was the commissioner of aviation for the City of Chicago from 1959 to 1975.  While he served as commissioner, most of the extensive development of O’Hare International Airport took place.  Shortly after his death in 1975, the award was conceived to honor his memory.  Mr. Downes served as President of the Airport Operator Council International (AOCI) from 1966-67.  He also served on AOCI’s International Board, and was chairman from 1970-71.

The Downes Award Committee is currently seeking nominations for the 2024 award, which will be presented at the 2024 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Grand Rapids, MI. 

The deadline for nomination submissions is Friday, May 17 by 5 PM ET. 

Selection Process

  • Nominees may not be current ACI-NA Official Representative members.
  • The recipient of this award must have made a significant and outstanding contribution to airports or aviation.
  • Nominations must be submitted following the format of the nomination form.
  • All nominations must be submitted by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, May 17.
  • The Downes Award Committee will present a recommendation to the ACI-NA Board. 
  • The 2024 recipient will be notified in advance.
  • The 2024 Downes Award will be presented at the 2024 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Grand Rapids, MI. 

Nomination Criteria

The recipient of this award must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Outstanding leadership and action in the cause of airport or aviation management; or
  • Successful work for acceptance, development and support of needed airport programs; or
  • Fostering of cooperation among various segments of aviation, with the result of bettering airports; or
  • A creative approach to solving today’s problems with a plan for future airport and aviation development.

Accomplishments of primary importance to the Downes Award Committee include those made in the field of airport management in the U.S. and Canada.  However, individuals from other organizations including a governmental body, private industry, academic institution or private citizen, and in other ACI regions, are eligible for recognition provided such accomplishments had a significant and outstanding positive impact on airports or aviation.

Please click here to submit a nomination for the 2024 Downes Award >>