Last week’s ICAO 2021 Air Services Negotiation (ICAN) event provided both an in-person and virtual platform for countries finalizing new international air transport agreements. The Bogotá ICAN event, held from 6–10 December, was the first hosted in South America since the unique global negotiation events were established by ICAO, in 2008. Over 300 in-person and 170 virtual participants, representing 70 countries, took advantage of the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of this year’s hybrid gathering.
In his opening remarks to the international negotiators, ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar highlighted that the work they were undertaking was “critical to all aspects of ICAO’s current air transport recovery objectives, as well as to the future sustainable growth and resilience we are working so hard to achieve in terms of international aviation’s post-COVID environment.”
“Multilateralism and the work you’ll embark on here in the next few days continue to be essential to global success,” he added, “and to the restoration of global travel, trade and tourism capacity in all world regions.”
The Secretary General drew attention in this context to the Declaration countries formalized at ICAO’s recent High-level Conference on COVID-19, and more specifically to the commitments they made to open international borders through updated risk management and vaccination approaches and to build aviation back better to address the lowering of emissions and future sectoral pandemic resilience.
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. 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.
“ICAO has maintained a firm commitment to work with States towards a long-term vision for international air transport liberalization, and I assure you that it will only be reinforced under my leadership,” Secretary General Salazar emphasized when concluding the event.
He also expressed ICAO’s appreciation for the keynote address for ICAN2021 by His Excellency Mr. Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia, for the goodwill message by Ms. Ángela Orozco, Minister of Transport of Colombia, and for the closing remarks by Her Excellency Marta Lucía Ramírez, Vice president and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia. Additional participation on behalf of Colombian Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and Mr. Jair Fajardo, Director General of Civil Aviation (Aerocivil), served to reinforce the commitment of Colombian Government to international civil aviation and to ICAO.
Secretary General Salazar concluded by noting that “all of us share a full commitment today to help restore air travel and trade and reconnect our world, so that hundreds of millions of people can have their livelihoods restored, and we can once again put the world on track to increase global connectivity and prosperity.”