ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu delivered a series of determined messages on aviation’s connectivity, prosperity and sustainability benefits last week during meetings with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, the country’s Minister of Transport, Mr. Maxim Sokolov, as well as during her presentations to the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Participating at the St. Petersburg Forum, where she contributed to two panel discussions on future logistics and tourism development, Dr. Liu stressed the critical role of safe, secure and efficient air transport operations in expanding market and trade access. The Secretary General also stressed ICAO’s role in determining the international standards and recommended practices which help States to optimize aviation’s socio-economic contributions. She further outlined the very positive impacts aviation delivers as it aids cities, States and Regions to leverage the unique international logistical and other benefits of global air transport connectivity.
“Travel and tourism’s contributions to world GDP outpaced the global economy growth rate for the sixth consecutive year in 2016, rising to an average total of 10.2 per cent or a total of 7.6 trillion dollars,” Dr. Liu emphasized. “With respect to the central role which aviation plays in this process, 53 per cent of tourists travelled by air to reach their international destinations last year. Air transport therefore plays a larger role in terms of tourism potential than all other modes of transport combined.”
When discussing the role of air cargo and the 21st century global marketplace, Dr. Liu stressed to the event participants “the importance of air cargo with respect to high-value goods, just-in-time freight operations, and the ever-expanding modern e-commerce activities we are seeing worldwide. ICAO’s data has shown that the air cargo share of items purchased online is projected to grow to a remarkable 91% by 2025,” she continued, “and these numbers support why many of the expectations now instilled in modern consumers – whether for access to global products or next-day delivery – are wholly dependent on aircraft to deliver their goods rapidly and reliably.”
“I’m sure we can all agree that Russia has a very robust foundation from which to pursue further tourism growth and sustainable prosperity for Russian cities and regions,” Dr. Liu summarized to the St. Petersburg Forum participants. “We all have much to gain from cooperating, and ICAO is already pursuing a wide range of programmes. We look forward to the Russian Federation’s continued partnership and engagement in our goals through ICAO, and to our work aiding both your domestic and international tourism objectives, well into the future.”
Dr. Liu was in Moscow and St. Petersburg to conduct bilateral discussions with Russian Federation Prime Minister and the State’s Minister of Transport. Their high-level discussions centred around the need for strong State commitments and investments in modernized infrastructure to safely and efficiently manage future air transport growth and in strengthening national aviation safety oversight capacities.
These key messages were further reiterated throughout Dr. Liu’s meetings with other senior transport officials of the Russian Federation, including Mr. Igor Levitin, the President of the Russian Federation’s Assistant responsible for transport, Mr. Valery Okulov, the Ministry of Transport’s Deputy Minister, and Mr. Viktor Basargin, Head of the Federal Authority for Transport Oversight.
The Russian Federation’s leader expressed commitment to global cooperation on air transport sustainability, and agreed with Dr. Liu to enhance cooperation with ICAO on aviation safety and the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and to provide voluntary contributions for translation of the ICAO website and publications and secondments to support ICAO programme activities, in particular the “No Country Left Behind” initiative.
Dr. Liu was accompanied by the Representative of the Russian Federation on the Council of ICAO, Mr. Alexey A. Novgorodov, and the ICAO Regional Director, Mr Luis Fonseca de Almeida.