ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu highlighted a series of important air transport priorities to an audience of South East Asian governments last week, focusing on the direct relationships between forecast regional growth, improved ICAO safety, security and operational compliance, and the resulting assurance of rising socio-economic prosperity for local populations.
Dr. Liu’s remarks were delivered to participants at the ICAO-EASA forum on Civil Aviation in South East Asia that was held from 12-14 September in Bangkok, and were complemented during the opening session by the statements delivered by the Minister of Transport of Thailand, Dr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, Mr. Patrick Ky, and the International Air Transport Association’s Asia Pacific Regional Vice President, Mr. Conrad Clifford.
“Air traffic is projected to increase among ASEAN States fuelled importantly by progressive liberalization initiatives and the continuing trend toward greater regional economic integration”, Dr. Liu highlighted. “Continued growth points to some tremendous opportunities for aviation and economic stakeholders around the world, but it also poses a unique challenge in terms of assuring that network expansion and traffic increases do not pose any costs in terms of overall sectoral safety performance,” Dr. Liu explained.
ICAO fully supports the increased liberalization of air and freight services globally, given the clear and very positive impacts it helps to achieve in terms of operator profitability, network expansion, and increased tourism, trade and investment more generally. Current projections point to air traffic volumes among ASEAN States tripling to more than 20,000 flights per day by the year 2033.
“These figures, while very positive, also point to some serious challenges for South East Asian governments,” Dr. Liu noted. “Many are already challenged to varying extents in terms of their aviation safety and security oversight operations, and besides the forecast growth we are warning of, they will also be confronted by a sectoral environment which continues to evolve in terms of technologies, operations, and business models, at a very rapid pace.”
In addition to a series of calls to action regarding safety oversight performance levels in the Asia Pacific Region, and more specifically in support of the targets established under the Beijing Declaration which were agreed by the Asia/Pacific Ministerial Conference on Civil Aviation earlier this year, Dr. Liu also emphasized some acute aviation security concerns in need of further attention.
“We must recognize together, the urgent importance of protecting civil aviation’s critical infrastructure, data, and IT and communications systems in an environment of increasing cyber threats,” she commented. “The 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly called for a coordinated approach among world nations to achieve an acceptable and commensurate cyber resilience capability on a truly global scale, and we cannot lose sight of the fact that this is true for both cybersafety and cybersecurity resilience.”
Dr. Liu concluded by stressing that many States still continue to struggle in complying with international aviation safety standards specifically because they lack sufficient human resources and technical capacities, drawing attention to ICAO’s Next Generation Aviation Professionals (NGAP) programme, and its upcoming Summit in Shenzhen, China this December.
“Prior to commencement of the ICAO-EASA forum, Dr. Liu had a meeting with the Minister of Transport of Thailand, Hon. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and the Director General of Civil Aviation of Thailand, Dr. Chula Sukmanop during which important and current civil aviation matters of mutual interest were discussed. Dr. Liu agreed to enhance the cooperation between ICAO and Thailand and thanked the Minister for Thailand’s continued investment in the regional office’s premise. The Thai Minister reiterated his commitment to their continuous efforts in enhancing Thailand’s safety and security oversight systems.