The years 2020 and 2021 proved to be the most challenging years in civil aviation history due to COVID-19. The pandemic affected all industries, sectors, and all aspects of our lives with devastating economic and financial losses and brought significant uncertainty. For the aviation and tourism sectors, the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly severe.
Regions with large domestic markets, good vaccination rollout strategies and less restrictive border re-opening policies had a faster recovery than the other parts of the world. International air traffic for Asia-Pacific airlines was impacted by strict government border restrictions, and there was a diverse and slow vaccination rollout in some countries in the region. Domestic passenger traffic has been recovering, ahead of international traffic, as exemplified by the strong recovery of China’s domestic market. Fortunately, the Asia/Pacific region’s role as a manufacturing hub benefited regional airlines’ cargo revenues.
Nonetheless, 2021 was a year of collaboration between the aviation industries and public health. Since the onset of the crisis, the APAC Regional Office has pursued several new avenues of virtual interaction and communication with our Member States in the region. Despite ongoing challenges, the ICAO APAC Office effectively delivered its annual activities as planned. Asia Pacific States have been actively participating in the ICAO Asia Pacific regional coordination mechanisms such as the ICAO Planning and Implementation Regional Group (APANPIRG), Regional Aviation Safety Group (RASG-AP) and the Regional Aviation Security Coordination Forum (RASCF).
The APAC Regional Office is committed to putting the maximum effort into reconnecting the world by supporting Member States as they respond and recover to the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening international aviation safety and security standards, and promoting a sustainable aviation system. For the 2022/23 period, the main activities and priorities of the ICAO APAC Regional Office are the following:
1) Support the recovery of APAC civil aviation through the work of the Asia and Pacific (APAC) COVID-19 Contingency and Recovery Planning Group (ACCRPG), its three sub-groups and the CRRIC;
2) Implement the recommendations of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) aviation needs analysis study;
3) Strengthen stakeholder engagement and collaboration to advance ICAO’s strategic objectives;
4) Mediate several ATM contingency events, including contingency operations in the Kabul (Afghanistan) FIR; and
5) Promote participation in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and submission of the State Action Plan (SAP) to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation.
I would like to take the opportunity to invite States in the Region to attend and actively participate in the forthcoming 41st ICAO Assembly in September 2022, which is expected to address many priority issues including Recent developments in Annex 9-Facilitation, Cybersecurity for civil aviation and explore the Feasibility of a Long-term Global Aspirational Goal (LTAG) for International Aviation CO2 Emissions Reductions.