The global airline industry representative body, the International Air Transport Association (Iata), is pleased with the outcomes of last week’s fortieth Triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO – the inter-governmental body which oversees civil aviation worldwide, in terms of codifying and coordinating the procedures and principles of international air travel; it is a specialised agency of the United Nations). All of Iata’s main concerns were addressed by the Assembly.
Iata’s concerns were – the need to support the aviation industry’s efforts to reduce its effect on climate change; to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), popularly called drones, into civilian airspace management; to ensure that passengers with disabilities experienced a global, consistent, approach when travelling by air; to put in place an international legal framework to deal with unruly passengers; to establish passenger identification measures that were convenient and modern; and, to make global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) less vulnerable to damaging interference. Of these, it was climate change that was at the top of the agenda.
The Assembly agreed that the ICAO Council would, at the next Assembly, report on alternatives for setting a long-term aspiration for cutting carbon emissions from global aviation. This is the first time that the world’s countries have agreed to look at a long-term objective of cutting aviation emissions. The industry itself – Iata, its members, other aviation industry participants (particularly aircraft and aero-engine manufacturers) – adopted such an objective ten years ago. The industry objective is to cut aviation emissions to half their 2005 levels by 2050. “[W]e are making consistent progress,” affirmed Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “Flying today is 17.3% more fuel efficient than a decade ago.”
ICAO also reiterated and reinforced its support for the implementation of the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for Civil Aviation (Corsia). This was the first ever global carbon offsetting programme. “From 2020 – with the help of Corsia – the [aviation] sector’s growth will be carbon neutral,” he highlighted. “We need to implement Corsia successfully. It’s essential to our promise of carbon neutral growth. This Assembly has sent a clear message that governments are committed to Corsia and want to broaden participation from the voluntary stage. We look forward to seeing these commitments delivered as Corsia begins – particularly by those States that are undermining Corsia with additional taxes or charges.”
Progress was made on all the other issues of concern to Iata as well. Thus, the Assembly asked the ICAO Council to create a programme on assuring access for passengers with disabilities; it urged States to ratify the 2014 Montreal Protocol on unruly passengers; and it endorsed Iata’s One ID biometric recognition passenger security and facilitation project (which includes strong data protection). Furthermore, regarding UAS, the Assembly instructed the ICAO Council to urgently examine the creation of a high-level committee, with industry, to supply the Council with regular strategic advice on innovation, including integrating drones into civilian airspace. Regarding GNSS, the Assembly called for action to minimise and manage the effects of harmful interference on GNSS concerning safe and efficient aviation and air traffic management operations. In addition, the Assembly agreed that air transport infrastructure shortcomings around the world should be addressed.
“Over many decades we have successfully supported ICAO in setting the standards and recommended practices that have facilitated the safe and efficient development of global connectivity,” pointed out De Juniac. “And we are working together so that aviation can successfully tackle the challenge of climate change. Everyone has their unique role to play. But aviation is a team effort. This Assembly demonstrated once again how this cooperation is moving aviation towards an even safer, more efficient and sustainable future.”