During a recent virtual meeting with the region’s aviation leaders yesterday, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu joined the agency’s North American, Central American, and Caribbean (NACC) Regional Director, Mr. Melvin Cintron, in highlighting how NACC States could become an example on how to optimize air travel and tourism in aid of wider regional recovery and growth objectives through enhanced coordination.
“While public health is, and must remain, the overriding priority for civil societies, the critical role played by air transport in crisis response and general economic recovery must not be under-estimated,” she noted. “ICAO and its Member States clearly recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis – it is also an economic and financial crisis presenting governments with very difficult trade-offs in terms of the medical, economic, and social priorities concerned.”
The Secretary General’s remarks took note of the fact that global supply chains, emergency and humanitarian responses, and more recently the safe, secure, and efficient worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, all strongly rely on the international air transport network which governments cooperate on to achieve through ICAO.
These considerations played a part in the most recent ‘Phase III’ revisions to the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations, in addition to several other key factors such as the emergence of new virus variants, and the beginning of the global vaccine rollouts.
The new CART provisions target specific issues relating to States’ multilayer risk management strategies and are organized around three main areas of priority.
The first is the establishment of national and regional risk management strategies to gradually open-air routes based on mutually recognized public health measures. The second is addressing the long-term implications of the pandemic for traditional air transport business models and operations. The third concerns making sure that global aviation learns from COVID-19 and achieves smarter operations by improving its economic and environmental sustainability and future pandemic resilience.
The Secretary General highlighted that ICAO remains committed to providing States with tailored guidance material, training, tools, and expert support, including through the ICAO NACC Regional Office. She also encouraged the local leaders to continue to take full advantage of the information sharing and monitoring resources consolidated on ICAO’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Implementation Centre (CRRIC).
Highlighting that signs of recovery are emerging in some of the larger States in the region, Dr. Liu also stressed the importance of being fully prepared, both nationally and regionally, to take decisive action and full advantage of pent-up global tourism demand.