Over 400 participants representing 63 countries concluded 212 new international air services agreements at ICAO’s 2022 Air Services Negotiation (ICAN) event, which closed on Friday evening in Abuja, Nigeria. In his opening remarks to the international negotiators, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano expressed the collective gratitude of ICAO and all present to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the event’s opening ceremonies by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
He also emphasized that ICAN 2022’s attendance level was an important reminder “that the progressive resurgence of the air transport industry is proceeding at a post-pandemic pace,” noting that the agreements to be finalized there would only add to the recovery’s momentum.
“Multilateralism and the work embarked on here continue to be essential to global success,” he added, “and to the restoration of global travel, trade and tourism capacity in all world regions.”
Since the launch of ICAN in 2008, the ICAO forum has grown and evolved to the point that it has played host to over 5,000 bilateral meetings, resulting in close to 4,000 agreements and arrangements. ICAO promotes several key priorities for States when supporting their air services negotiations, including liberalized market access for airlines, the removal of barriers to access wider capital markets, and relaxed nationality requirements for airlines’ ownership, and the UN agency is presently working on a new Convention on Foreign Investment in Airlines to help support this multilateral progress.
Further priorities include commitments to convergent and effective regulatory practices supported by good governance, and recognition of the need for modernized infrastructure and passenger facilitation processes to support future safety, security, emissions, capacity, and resilience objectives.
All of the above are also expected to be accompanied by effective national competition and consumer protection frameworks, and full compliance with current ICAO policy guidance on taxes, charges, and fees.
“The work undertaken during this ICAN event is critical to all aspects of ICAO’s air transport objectives, as well as to the future sustainable growth and resilience of international aviation in the post-COVID-19 era,” remarked President Sciacchitano. “ICAO will continue to maintain its firm commitment to work with States, regional and sub-regional bodies in the development of measures to foster cooperation, including the development of liberalized arrangements towards achieving the long-term vision for international air transport liberalization,” he concluded.
The President’s activities in Nigeria were supported by the Director of ICAO’s Air Transport Bureau, Mr. Mohamed Rahma, and by ICAO’s Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Prosper Zo’o Minto’o.While in Abuja, President Sciacchitano also discussed further priorities for Nigerian, African, and global air transport with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Aviation of Nigeria, Senator Hadi Sirika.