The key implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for global air transport were addressed in several key air transport facilitation decisions adopted during the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 41st Assembly.
The triennial meeting closed at ICAO Headquarters in Montréal, Canada on October 7, concluding the latest efforts by ICAO Member States to forge diplomatic consensus on ICAO’s budget and work program for the next three years, which includes focusing on key priorities.
“The outcomes of ICAO’s High Level Conference on COVID-19 have factored into States’ agreements in the area of Air Transport Facilitation, and notably in terms of its recommendations on the need for a contactless digital passenger experience to be achieved, supported by new public health related ICAO provisions,” said ICAO’s Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano.
States agreed to promote the global adoption of internationally interoperable health certificates featuring ICAO Visible Digital Seal for Non-Constrained Environments (VDS-NC) verification features.
States also voiced their support for the ICAO Health Master List, which aids States and aviation stakeholders in achieving efficient and secure authentication of traveler vaccination status and test result certificates, as part of maintaining health and sustaining safe international air transport during public health emergencies affecting air travel.
States further endorsed that ICAO will develop a new strategy in order that the world may be better prepared to respond to future public health emergencies, notably through its Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA). Emphasis was given to this strategy to include a comprehensive crisis management framework and mechanism.
The Assembly also noted that ICAO’s Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP) and the GASeP Roadmap provide global structure and direction to States’ enhancement of the effectiveness of global aviation security. Concurrently, the new ICAO Implementation Support Policy helps to underpin ICAO’s efforts to assist States to deliver on aviation security. The efforts by States, regional groups and industry to implement the GASeP and its Roadmap received exceptional recognition by the Assembly, who further agreed on the need to update the Plan to provide a strong focus on human factors, performance, and the professionalization of the aviation workforce.
In addition, States decided to adopt and implement the recommendations from the ICAO Symposium on Assistance to Aircraft Accident Victims and their Families conducted last year, and to officially designate 2023 as the ‘Year of Facilitation Culture’ to underscore the scope and relevance of the challenges which lie ahead.
Finally, the Assembly adopted a Declaration on air transport facilitation affirming global commitment to enable the safe and efficient recovery of aviation from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make aviation more resilient in the future.