ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu while speaking at the 74th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Sydney, Australia raised a number of points with the attending airline CEOs on the event’s main topics, which this year includes constantly evolving security threats, the increased use of sustainable alternative fuels, airport privatizations, and sector-wide gender equality.
“Against the backdrop of an unpredictable global security environment, and the significant forecast passenger and cargo growth which is top of mind for all of us, our sector will continue to be faced with serious security risks from terrorist groups, radicalized individuals, and other threat sources,” Dr. Liu remarks. “It is ICAO’s view that the highest-priority threats requiring our vigilant focus today are improvised explosive devices (IEDs) carried by passengers, landside security in public airports, cyber-attacks on mission-critical air transport systems, and the potential for malicious deployments of Remotely-Piloted or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (RPAS/UAS).”
On the topic of sustainable alternative aviation fuels, Dr. Liu notes that ICAO has been encouraged that many airlines have committed to increase their adoption and deployment of green fuel alternatives, stressing that “ICAO supports this progress through its Global Framework for Aviation Alternative Fuels, and the platform it provides for related policy, data, best practices and other resources to be shared.”
Shifting her focus to airport privatization, Dr. Liu recalls that a change in ownership structure in no way diminishes a government’s responsibility to fulfill its related ICAO compliance obligations.
“These include safety, security, and efficiency standards, as well as airport and air navigation service charges, and pertains to both facilities which are entirely privately owned, or which are managed under Public Private Partnerships (PPPs),” she comments, “Airlines can greatly assist this process by providing advance planning data on the future types, characteristics and numbers of aircraft expected to be in use, as well as the anticipated growth in flight, passenger and cargo volumes.”
With respect to aviation gender equality, a priority emphasized by ICAO Member States at ICAO’s last Assembly in 2016, Dr. Liu emphasizes that while “air transport connects people, cultures and businesses across the globe, and strengthens socio-economic development worldwide, at the same time it has not been very successful at providing an open, inclusive working environment for women.”
“In China for instance there is a proverb which states that women hold up half the sky, but in aviation today, whether we are talking pilots or airline CEOs, women are only making up one twentieth of these positions,” Dr. Liu underscores. She called on the airline CEOs to make gender parity a personal priority, stressing that it must be driven from the top in any organization, and highlighted ICAO’s new Gender Equality Programming and upcoming Summit on the topic jointly hosted with South Africa in Cape Town this August.