ICAO symposium addresses aviation industry’s competition and regulatory issues

The third International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Transport Symposium saw attendees discuss a range of issues relating to competition and regulation.
Secretary general Dr Fang Liu opened the event, saying: “Air transport has become an essential component of our global society and aviation is a crucial driver of economic, social and cultural development worldwide, supporting roughly 60 million jobs globally and generating more than $2.4trn in economic activity.”
According to ICAO, the UN aviation regulatory agency, the symposium offered “a unique opportunity for high-level experts from governments, airlines, airports, air navigation services providers and academic institutions to further define the practical balance needed between competitive market expectations and regulatory responsibility, while fostering convergence in competition policies.”
Under the overarching theme of the conference’s ‘Addressing Competition Issues: Towards a Better Operating Environment’, specific themes coming out of the event included: the need for deeper understanding and greater consensus on states’ varying competition policies and their principles of fair competition; greater transparency in addressing competition issues, including state aids and subsidies; liberalisation to support global connectivity, thereby enabling states and regions to effectively access global markets and trade flows; and a need to focus on the difficulties inherent in determining aviation-specific liberalisation safeguards.
Recognising the challenges related to finding a commonly acceptable definition of ‘fair competition’ and or ‘level playing field’, participants called for ICAO’s leadership in support of air transport liberalisation, including the development of international agreements, as well as further dialogue and exchange of information to facilitate a more common understanding of competition priorities and implications for operators and authorities.
“As the operating environment becomes more market-driven, competition among airlines and airports will further intensify,” Liu stated. “How to ensure a sound and orderly operating environment, and fair and equal opportunity for all carriers are major challenges facing regulators, and as we pursue the liberalisation of air transport, we should also work together towards the development of greater global regulatory convergence on competition issues.”

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