International Civil Aviation Day: Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind.

December 7th is recognized every year as International Civil Aviation Day (ICAD). Befitting this commemoration of aviation’s uniquely cooperative history and its incredible contributions to world peace and prosperity, ICAO’s Council President, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, and the Organization’s Secretary General, Dr. Fang Liu, have issued the following joint statement to commemorate this historic date.

The theme for International Civil Aviation Day, “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind”, was established on a recurring basis for the 2016-2018 ICAO triennium, in order to highlight the enormous transformational power of air connectivity to improve people’s lives.

It also reflects the key role of cooperation and assistance to help spread aviation’s benefits to every corner of the world, and on the power of capacity-building to help needful States leverage the latest technologies and innovations.

Diplomats from 54 world powers risked war-torn skies to meet in Chicago in 1944 (above), where they drafted the visionary Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) which established ICAO. It was formalized in the Convention’s preamble that civil aviation should be developed as a tool for world peace and prosperity, and in the decades since its ability to connect the world’s peoples and cultures and improve the prosperity of local populations has only become more relevant. Today more than 10 million passengers take to the skies on over 100,000 flights each and every day in aviation’s global network, numbers which are all set to double in the next 15 years based on current forecasts.

No fewer than 4.1 billion passengers and 56 million tonnes of freight were carried on 37 million commercial flights last year, and in light of this massive volume of operations aviation generates over 65 million jobs worldwide and more than USD 2.7 trillion to global GDP.

Despite the incredible scale of these economic impacts, the growth in commercial flight volumes show no signs of slowing. Indeed current forecasts see the numbers of passengers and operations in global air transport doubling by the mid-2030s. By that time, no fewer than 200,000 flights per day are expected to take off and land all over the world.

This tremendous exponential growth, coupled with the distinct contributions of aviation connectivity to States’ achievement of 15 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), presents a new and tremendous opportunity for global development in the coming decades.

But in order to take advantage of this growth, and optimize it for their local businesses and populations, governments must commit to raising their levels of ICAO compliance to be in line with global norms.

And they must also continue to support the principles of open borders and freer trade, so that air transport can continue to connect us all and foster new understanding among the peoples of the world, and new opportunities for travel and trade.

Improving local skills and capabilities to assure ICAO compliance can be a daunting task for many developing States, and the No Country Left Behind theme acknowledges these challenges while encouraging greater generosity and assistance from more developed States and donors.

To-date it has helped many countries become more active participants in international aviation, helping to augment travel and tourism revenues for Small Island States, provide Landlocked Developing States with safe, secure and rapid access to global suppliers and trade routes, and to present a brighter, more sustainable future of opportunity for their local populations.

The availability of highly-trained skilled local resources is also a factor in how effectively States will be able to implement and leverage emerging technologies in aviation, such as drones and other remotely-piloted and new high-altitude aircraft, Artificial Intelligence and many other new capabilities now coming to the fore.

International civil aviation remains our most remarkable example of successful human cooperation and effective global partnership. On 7 December 2018, ICAO calls upon its Member States and the global community to help us underscore its many accomplishments, both this year but especially next year as well, when ICAO will be looking to world governments to help it celebrate the 75th Anniversary of ICAO and the global framework enabling international flight.

As part of ICAO’s 75th Anniversary celebration, new youth-oriented innovation contests will be carried out throughout the course of 2019, the goal of which will be to inspire and motivate younger demographics to pursue careers in the air transport sector.