Viewpoint: The Importance Of The ICAO Assembly Cannot Be Understated

By Siim Kallas, transport commissioner and vice president of the European Commission.
Source: AWIN First

On security, along with many others, our strong focus has helped to stabilize public confidence after some major challenges, most notably the 9/11 attacks. I am encouraged to see a good deal of support elsewhere in ICAO for this because security is, after all, a matter for everyone. No country can tackle on its own the threat of terrorism to international aviation. We should keep working together in ICAO to find the right balance between keeping people safe and making life as manageable as possible for passengers and industry.

Last year’s ICAO High Level Conference on Aviation Security recommended reinforcing air cargo security and addressing the danger from liquid explosives, as well as insider threats. If these recommendations are followed in Montreal, then we will be stronger and more united in tackling the specter of air-travel terrorism.

On safety, there has been remarkable progress, both in Europe and worldwide. But we still need to reduce the risk of gaps in regulations, avoiding confused responsibilities and conflicting requirements. I would like to see ICAO give a big push toward this. It’s important to take action to improve before accidents happen, not just afterward.

As an international service industry, aviation has reached a level of structural maturity, which means we all need to meet global standards of safety, security and the environment. That means working together to modernize air traffic management, because global aviation needs efficient and advanced ATM systems that can provide fair value and seamless service to airlines as well as punctuality to passengers. These are needed especially now that air traffic growth is pushing the world’s transport systems to their limits. ICAO can play a vital role in helping to develop global ATM standards and interoperability. They would save vast amounts in ATM costs that are passed on to passengers.

So the importance of the forthcoming Assembly in Montreal cannot be underestimated. There is a lengthy and varied agenda in front of us. It will be a pivotal moment for the future of international aviation. Europe will be at the heart of the negotiations, not just on aviation emissions but in all areas. I plan to ensure the best possible outcomes for EU citizens and businesses, and to secure sustainable growth for this vital global industry.

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