The attention of ministers of transport and health for 193 countries will be focused on air transport over the next two weeks, as discussions are underway at the ICAO High-level Conference on COVID-19 (HLCC) on how to safely accelerate the resumption of global air connections to revitalize tourism and trade.
Over 45 Ministers and Deputy Ministers joined the first HLCC Ministerial Roundtable on the first day. It’s anticipated that the chief outcome of the HLCC event will be a new Declaration outlining countries common global vision for aviation recovery, resilience and sustainability in support of reinvigorated global travel and trade.
Event interactions, taking place from 12 to 22 October, are focusing not only on near-term objectives relevant to countries’ traveler vaccination and related pandemic risk mitigation measures, but also on medium- and long-term resilience and sustainability objectives to assure future infectious disease events might be managed with far less global disruption.
ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano, stressed that as a result of the extraordinary and severe challenges facing global aviation and international air mobility due to the pandemic, the importance of the event’s outcomes to international travel and trade, and to the prosperity and sustainability of economies everywhere, “cannot be overemphasized.”
“This explains why we need new and even stronger multilateral commitments forged here that are aimed at safely restoring air travel, supporting industry and operational viability, and strengthening public and commercial confidence in travel and trade by air.”
The 10-day ICAO Conference is expected to consider a broad range of issues, with particular technical focus on safety and facilitation objectives in the pandemic context.
It will also provide countries with an important and timely opportunity to promote and strengthen collective efforts to harmonize pandemic response measures and risk management strategies through the implementation of the recommendations by the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).
In providing the Conference Overview at the onset of the proceedings, ICAO Secretary General, Juan Carlos Salazar, remarked on how the pandemic has had a substantial impact on aviation, with recovery having been both volatile and fragile and still largely confined to domestic travel and trade markets.
He noted that participants would consider proposals for States to use in tackling safety, operational and economic challenges, and streamlined policy responses to the post-pandemic state of aviation, and to strengthen the multilateral cooperation and collective engagements which have been so important to weathering the pandemic storm until now.