New air cargo liberalization agreement to bolster regional vaccine transport long-term recovery

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As part of their regional strategies for COVID-19 response and aviation recovery, ICAO’s two Regional Offices for the Americas (SAM and NACC) have contributed to the development and emergence of the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission (LACAC)’s new multilateral agreement to liberalize air cargo services in the region. 

The agreement comes into effect immediately among its ten signatories, and establishes expanded traffic rights, so-called “seventh freedom” traffic rights, permitting airlines from one LACAC Member State to provide all-cargo services between two other signatory States without restrictions on routes and capacity. The 10 states involved are Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

“COVID-19 has imposed significant constraints on the entire air transport industry and enterprises of all sizes are re-evaluating their business models,” noted ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. “To remain flexible and responsive to countries’ needs, ICAO is adapting global regulatory approaches where this can aid pandemic response and global recovery efforts.” 

The agreement will remain in effect for one year, until 31 December 2021, and can be extended for a further year, at the discretion of LACAC States. 

Besides its immediate impacts in terms of pandemic response and recovery, ICAO encourages other countries to view it as a significant step in advancing the ICAO Long-Term Vision for International Air Transport Liberalization

“Our hope would be to see this regional development evolve into a more permanent and global agreement enabling more liberalized and sustainable 21st-century air services,” Dr. Liu emphasized. 

“In the near-term it should help increase the efficiency of vaccine distribution, and in the longer term, it should enable air cargo and in particular e-commerce to play even more important parts in regional economic recovery and development. I strongly encourage other States and Regions to take similar action.”