GIAS – Keynote address by the Council President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Distinguished colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,

 It is my great pleasure to join you today for this Global Investment in Aviation Summit, and to have an opportunity to discuss with you ICAO’s priorities and expectations of its member States and industry.

I wish to express ICAO’s appreciation to His Highness, Ahmed bin Saheed Al Maktoum, for his patronage of this event, and to the organizers for the exemplary facilities and arrangements made.

Aviation is a global industry, and one which connects people, cultures and businesses across the continents. 

It is essential to many States as they seek to access regional and global markets, and these connections in turn enhance consumer benefits and choices, create jobs, and significantly stimulate tourism and trade. 

Last year, some 4.3 billion passengers and 58 million tonnes of freight were carried by global commercial operators, on 38 million flights. 

Our sector is responsible today for providing meaningful employment and sustainable careers to over 65 million men and women worldwide, while contributing at the same time more than 2.7 trillion dollars to global GDP.

According to the latest ICAO long-term traffic forecasts, both air passenger traffic and air freight traffic globally should more than double by 2035.

This next exponential step in the growth of global operations brings with it the promise of further, and indeed quite tremendous global economic potential, with current aviation benefits in terms of tourism and trade also expected to expand significantly.

We should also appreciate that aviation growth and development also has implications in terms of reductions in travel time, improvement of service predictability and reliability, global environmental concerns and the reduction of air transport emissions, as well as other national and regional goals relating to educational and human development capacity.

It is therefore critical today for States to make the needed investments required now in national and regional infrastructure, capacity, and technologies.

By addressing this impending growth promptly, and consistent with ICAO’s Global Plans and targets, States can look forward to optimizing the socio-economic benefits of this rapidly accelerating connectivity to the fullest possible extent

In the coming decades, massive investment in aircraft production and new technologies will be made by manufacturers in order to meet demands by world airline operators.

For aviation infrastructure alone, the scope and scale of the required development is massive, having impacts relating to land management; runway and terminal development; air traffic management, communications, navigation and surveillance technologies; border control capacity; aircraft maintenance facilities; and aviation training. 

Based on analyses by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the global investment needs for airport infrastructure are estimated at 1.8 trillion dollars from 2015 to 2030. 

While other major national planning priorities will also be requiring significant levels of investment over the long term, we should recall that an investment in aviation is not only a commitment to the safe, secure and efficient management of air transport operations, but also to national and regional economic growth and profitability. 

And we should also recall how these investments ultimately sustain the international connectivity and aviation-enabled ideals which the drafters of the Chicago Convention, some 75 years ago this year, understood to be so critical to fostering peace and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.

Understanding the importance of attracting investment is an important first step for States, but even after this realization many will still face challenges in obtaining the number and scale of investments which are needed.

Developing States, for example, face difficulties related to the current cost of borrowing, not to mention the fact that this is poised toworsen based on current projections

Similarly, would-be investors require that a credible business case is established for any large-scale project of this nature, as well as a concrete planning and implementation strategy

In 2013 we established the ICAO World Aviation Forums or ‘IWAF’ events as a platform to promote, among other related objectives, partnerships among the aviation and investment financing sectors.

ICAO has been encouraged by the results we’ve achieved at our first four IWAF events in this regard, and by the levels of enthusiasm demonstrated toward these priorities by numerous States, international organizations, donors and financial institutions, industry representatives, and other IWAF participants.

All of these diverse parties have indicated their strong consensus on both the challenges and opportunities which arise when countriesseek to maximize their aviation benefits, commit to creating an enabling economic and stable regulatory environmentand demonstrate solid political willingness toward mainstreaming the priorities of the aviation sector in their planning and development agendas

A very important step for States to take in this regard concerns the development of their national and/or regional aviation infrastructure programmes and plans in cooperation with the diverse investment stakeholder community

Furthermore, regarding ICAO-compliance requirements and benefits, these programmes and plans must have strategic infrastructure targets and performance ambitions which are guided by, and consistent with, ICAO’s Global Plans, in addition to any national and regional aims.

In this connection, our existing Global Aviation Safety Plan and Global Air Navigation Plan have lately been updated with new performance targets through to the 2030 timeframe. 

ICAO’s latest Global Aviation Security Plan, endorsed by the ICAO Council at the end of 2017, has already begun to align related targets and activities worldwide, including as regards cybersecurity as an emerging priority.

We are also considering new Global Plans in support of our sustainability work on air transport Economic Development and Environmental Protection.

Beyond serving as invaluable planning resources at the State level, ICAO Global Plans play further and very critical roles by helping to assure investor certainty in major air transport upgrade or expansion projects, and by bolstering industry confidence regarding its research and development activities. 

All our Member States’ national and regional Plans are now required to be consistent with ICAO’s Global Plans.

In terms of the steps States should take to ensure their local regional targets align with ICAO’s Global Planning, let me pleaseemphasize the following four points:

FirstlyStates need to determine strategic infrastructure targets by conducting national and regional gap-analyses between forecasted demand and current capacity. 

Business case analyses should also be conducted to accurately delineate all requirements, reduce investor risk, and evaluate projected returns.

Secondly, institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks, together with monitoring and evaluation mechanisms must be established.

Thirdly, a prime focus should be placed on investment in so-called ‘soft infrastructure’ or human capacity development. 

Infrastructure development absolutely requirealigned financial investments and enhancements in human capacity development, which are completely co-dependent. There is no point in upgrading technologies and facilities to the latest performance specifications if the personnel are not on hand to professionally operate them.

Fourthly, States should take pragmatic measures to build a transparent, stable and predictable investment climate to support aviation development, for example, by engaging multi-stakeholders, diversifying funding sources, and fully considering all options relating to private investment, business reform, private finance initiatives, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and incentive schemes as appropriate

Foreign direct investment, along with a stable international financial system, are also vital complements to domestic public and private resources.

ICAO continues to express its concern on the limited volume of international public finance and assistance currently available for aviation infrastructure projects, even despite aviation’s cross-cutting nature and multiple links to other economic sectors. 

International public finance and assistance can be used to unlock additional resources through blended or pooled financing and risk mitigation for infrastructure. 

For States with limited access to investment finance, it is therefore critical that we continue to advocate together for major aviation infrastructure projects to be included in the lists of prioritized opportunities relating to international public finance, including official development assistance (ODA) and South-South cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to reiterate that the first and most obvious pre-condition to developing and modernizing aviation infrastructure is to improve the effective implementation of ICAO’s global aviation standards and policies, plans and programmes by States. 

To fulfil this pre-condition, ICAO continues to play a key role in:fostering effective partnerships between donors, investors and States; facilitating the mobilization of resources; and identifying, coordinating,and providing assistance to those States in need under its No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative

Our No Country Left Behind efforts are being refined today such that they place greater focus not only on our Standards implementation priorities, but also on the Global Plan targets. 

As I mentioned earlier, 2019 is the 75th Anniversary of ICAO.  Aviation has completely changed our world in the last 75 years, and in ways that many would never have imagined. We have worked so hard together to make aviation into a safe, secure and efficient transportation system these past decades. However ICAO is focusing as much on air transport’s future as its past as we commemorate this historic anniversary.

In this regard, the next ICAO World Aviation Forum we are organizing for 23 September 2019, the day before our historic 40thAssembly this year, will be focused on technological innovation and its role is aviation’s sustainable future. 

This reflects the fact that we are living in a particularly dynamic period of innovation and transformation of the aviation sector today,with the emergence of drones, urban air mobilitycommercial space flights, higher altitude operations, anthe application of artificial intelligence and block chain technologies.

Alongside this year IWAF we will also be conducting Innovation Competitions throughout this year, and a Technology and Innovation Fair adjacent to the IWAF.

As we appreciate then all that aviation has meant and will mean to our societies and to our world, let me please wish you all a very engaging and thought-provoking 2019 Global Investment in Aviation Summit.

It is my expectation that the results of this Summit will provide ICAO and its member States with valuable inputs as we seek to modernize our industry to the benefit of future generations.

Finally I wish to once again express my thanks to His Highness and our GCAA hosts here in Dubai.

Thank you.

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu,

Council President

of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)