A spotlight on one of ICAO’s Strategic Objectives: Economic Development

The COVID-19 pandemic was more than a humanitarian health crisis, among the many challenges that were elevated around the world, there was social and economic upheaval as well. Beginning in March 2020, the virus began spreading rapidly without acknowledging borders, impacting all industries and sectors with devastating economic and financial losses.

During the global effort to contain the outbreak and protect people’s health, governments worldwide enforced full or partial lockdowns, closed borders, imposed stringent travel restrictions, and issued travel advisories against non-essential travel. The measures led to the collapse in air travel demand on an unprecedented scale, with aviation being one of the hardest-hit sectors.

ICAO’s work in Economic Development details the economic aspects of aviation, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, providing guidance on economic and financial measures, the post-COVID-19 forecast scenarios, and more.

Economic Aspects of COVID-19 in Aviation

Throughout the pandemic,  ICAO actively monitored the economic impact on civil aviation and regularly published updated reports and adjusted forecasts. The latest report, released on December 2022, highlights the various economic effects of COVID-19 on civil aviation.

Based on estimates of the COVID-19 impact on world scheduled passenger traffic for the year 2022
compared with 2019, there was an overall reduction of 25% to 26% of seats offered by airlines and an overall reduction of 1,278 to 1,281 million passengers (-28% to -29%). Furthermore, preliminary 2022 results indicate that there was approx. USD 174 to 175 billion loss of gross passenger operating revenues of airlines,

ICAO has also collaborated with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of Turkey to develop interactive dashboards to monitor four aspects of the impact of COVID-19 on civil aviation: operational and economic impacts, aircraft utilization and country-pair traffic. Using ADS-B Flight aware data and the ICAO Enterprise Data Management (EDM), this reliable and timely analysis presented in the dashboards represents significant value to States, industries, and stakeholders in planning and making implementation decisions to restart and recover from the impacts of the pandemic. To learn about ICAO’s COVID-19 Air Traffic Dashboard, click here.

Our Economic Development work includes Guidance on Economic and Financial Measures. The document summarizes a range of measures that States and aviation companies can explore to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic, alleviate the imminent liquidity and financial strain on the industry, and strengthen the industry’s resilience to future crises. This guidance outlines each measure’s potential implications and constraints while being complemented by concrete examples to help the decision-making of policymakers and industry leaders by their unique circumstances and needs.


To meet the needs of the aviation industry by integrating the entirety of data and business intelligence products and a selection of curated ICAO reports and documents we build the iCADS portal. The tool provides immersive and holistic access to ICAO’s portfolio of applications. It allows users unified access to the multitude of data sets and business intelligence solutions ICAO provides. Through iCADS, users can access a vast array of ICAO’s data sets such as Data+ and the Comprehensive Data File, a collection of interactive applications, case study analyses and scientific research conducted, specialized intelligence reports and statistical documents generated by ICAO’s data unit.

ICAO World Air Services Agreements (WASA) Database

The ICAO World Air Services Agreements (WASA) Database is an enhanced online platform replacing the previous versions of the “Database of the World’s Air Services Agreement.” ICAO’s WASA serves regulators, airlines, and other aviation stakeholders as a unique analytical tool to:

  • Evaluate developments in the air transport field.
  • Run comparative analyses of air services agreements.
  • Assess the degree of liberalization; and
  • Research route planning options.

The WASA contains texts and analyses of air services agreements officially registered with ICAO and other agreements and arrangements, codified summaries of provisions, codified route exchange tables, and the WASA Map. To learn more about WASA and possibilities of purchase, click here.

Regulatory and Policy Guidance

Our Economic Development team provides regulatory and policy guidance.  ICAO’s Air Transport Policy and Regulation programme aims provides assistance States so that they can perform economic, regulatory functions, increase consumers’ benefits and choices, improve air connectivity, and create more competitive business opportunities in the marketplace. Through this guidance, ICAO contributes to sustainable economic development, trade, and tourism. The work coveered by this program includes policy and guidance, competition compendium, connectivity, consumer protection, air cargo, ssential services, trade-in services, the Cape Town Convention, databases, SATAPS, and sound regulatory practices​.

Another Economic Development programme is Infrastructure Management. Their work aims to enhance and promote the sustainable development of aviation infrastructure to provide and operate airports and air navigation services. This programme offers solutions to improve providers’ organizational and managerial capability, reduce the financing burden on governments, protect users’ interests, allow early benefits of new technologies, and facilitate access to funding for long-term investment needs.

ICAO provides accurate, reliable, and consistent aviation data through its aviation data programme. By doing so, States, international organizations, the aviation industry, tourism, and other stakeholders can make better projections, control costs and risks, improve business valuations, and benchmark performance.

ICAO developed ICAO Data Plus and ICAO eTools to enable users to quickly identify patterns, trends, differences and similarities between data selections and make competitive analyses more accessible. ICAO Data Plus presents large amounts of air transport statistic data collected from our 193 Member States in a dynamic and graphical environment. As for ICAO eTools, the service provides a user-friendly way to access, analyze, and visualize aviation data in various specialized areas. Also, the ICAO’s Economic Analyses and Forecasting programme aims to provide analytical support to the air transport development and efficiency implementation. This programme covers topics such as post-COVID-19 forecasts scenarios, the economic contribution of civil aviation, and more.


ICAO has organized a few events related to the Economic Development strategic objective. In early December 2021, the 13th ICAO Air Services Negotiation Event was held in Bogotá, Colombia and in December 2022 the 14th ICAN event was held in Abuja, Nigeria.

These ICAN events provide States with a central meeting place to conduct bilateral, regional or plurilateral air services negotiations and consultations and networking opportunities for policymakers, regulators, air operators, service providers, and other stakeholders. The events offer a private forum for participants to learn about current trends, exchange experiences, and negotiate agreements.

In this section of the website, you can also find the many resources related to ICAO’s Economic Development strategic objective, including documents, studies and training.



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