Historically, airports were perceived as simple transportation hubs, the start and end point of a journey. But today, 21st century airports have evolved into key nodes for global production and enterprise – places to work, stay and discover.

All commercial functions of a modern metropolitan centre can be found immediately around major airport sites, transforming them from ‘city airports’ to ‘airport cities’ that benefit from the speed, agility and connectivity offered by airport cores.

The Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition (ACE) is the annual meeting place for the airport city and aerotropolis development community. ACE brings together senior figures working in airport city development to share learning and develop thought leadership around evolving airports and their surrounding areas, into unique businesses and tourist destinations in their own right.

Now in its 13th year, ACE 2014, hosted by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), will take place from 31 March to 2 April in Kuala Lumpur. The event is expected to be attended by more than 110 airport operators from 45 countries.

ACE attracts many high-level airport sector delegates every year, including airport CEOs, board-level and c-level directors and senior management. It also attracts key decision-makers from the banking, financial, investment and real estate sectors, economic development agencies and local and regional governments.

Every year, these delegates share experience, expertise and insight on airport city developments, in turn gaining knowledge and understanding themselves, and discovering the tools necessary for stimulating growth and generating commercial development at their own airport.

During the event, they can participate in a comprehensive, carefully tuned conference programme and network with key stakeholders in the creation and development of airport cities to explore business opportunities.

Tan Sri Bashir Ahmed, managing director of MAHB said: "I am greatly honoured that Malaysia Airports will be the host of ACE 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, and to be among the major international airports and pioneers of the aerotropolis concept that have hosted the Airport Cities conference since 2002. It will be even more exciting for us, as Kuala Lumpur’s ACE 2014 is going to be organised during Visit Malaysia Year 2014."

Located at the heart of Asia, Malaysia is strategically and financially positioned at the centre of regional networks. The country, and in particular Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), is a perfect host for this event as it is already well underway implementing its Aeropolis airport city project.

With more than 22,000 acres of land at its disposal to create a successful and viable world-class airport city, just over a quarter (6,000 acres) has already been developed for runways, the main terminal building, satellite and low-cost carrier terminals, cargo and other support facilities.

KLIA will welcome delegates with a comprehensive two-day conference programme consisting of a number of panel discussions involving high-level speakers such as Professor John Kasarda, director for air commerce, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, University of North Carolina, who will be chairing the conference; Kim Day, manager of aviation for Denver International Airport; Dr Mustafa Sani Sener, president and group CEO of TAV Airports Holding; and Rajeev Jain, CEO of GVK’s Mumbai and Bangalore International Airports.

The preconference masterclass, led by Professor Kasarda, will offer first-time and regular attendees a full understanding of the concept of airport cities and aerotropolses. Following last year’s success, it has now expanded to two sessions, at foundation and advanced levels, in order to meet delegates’ needs.

Further information about the event can be found at www.airportcities.aero