Before the establishment of ACI in January 1991, the world's airports were represented on the international scene by the Airport Associations Coordinating Council (AACC), which had been created in 1970 by combining three existing international airport associations: the Airport Operators Council International (AOCI); the International Civil Airports Association (ICAA); and the Western European Airports Association (WEAA). Prior to the formation of the AACC, the three associations had collaborated on an informal ad hoc basis and had presented the interests of their memberships to other international organizations separately.
With the passage of time, however, the growing importance of external factors on airport operation created the need for a formal relationship with governments, airlines, manufacturers and other parties concerned. This led to the establishment of AACC, with a view to formulating unified airport industry policies, furthering collaboration between its constituent associations, and representing them collectively with worldwide aviation organizations and other relevant bodies.
When the WEAA was dissolved in 1985, AACC became a bipartite body. The decision to create ACI, which incorporated AOCI and ICAA and succeeded AACC, was taken in 1989. The Constitution of ACI was approved by AOCI and ICAA memberships in the autumn of 1990 and came into effect on 1 January 1991.