Cargo industry welcomes new ICAO secretary general

By Damian Brett

Juan Carlos Salazar, ICAO. Source ICAO

The freight industry has welcomed the new secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as cargo continues to grow in importance to the overall aviation industry.

In a joint statement, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), the Global Express Association (GEA), and the International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) all welcomed Juan Carlos Salazar of Colombia to the top role at the United Nations’ body.

The groups said that Salazar’s appointment comes at a critical time for air cargo.

They said they are all eager to support ICAO in its work to develop and strengthen air cargo operations, which will be “increasingly vital for global trade and long-term economic recovery of ICAO Member States as the broader supply chain evolves with the global marketplace”.

“The Covid-19 pandemic showcased to the broader aviation stakeholder community the critical importance of air cargo,” a joint release said.

“Throughout the pandemic, the air cargo industry tackled complex safety, health, and operational issues, while supporting continued economic activity and proving vital for the transport of vaccines, medicines, and medical supplies and equipment around the world.

“ICAO is appropriately placed to build on this heightened profile – communicating the importance and potential of air cargo, championing policies to further develop the sector and supporting the drive for digitalisation.”

Key issues include digitalisation, to minimise the health risks and inefficiency of paper for information exchange; the rapid advance of e-commerce, in which air cargo is a vital tool for moving goods quickly to key markets; and a development of a cargo-specific regulatory framework that will foster sectoral growth in response to market needs.

“The upcoming High-level Conference on Covid-19 (HLCC 2021), to be held in October, will provide an opportunity to discuss how ICAO can act to futureproof all-cargo air operations, building in strength and resilience while ensuring that the sector is prepared for any future pandemic or other emergency,” they said.

“Discussions around a specific and open economic regime for cargo-only operations, including so-called seventh freedoms, should be part of this venue and partnership between ICAO, its Member States, industry, and other UN agencies will be essential.”

In a press release announcing his appointment, Salazar highlighted the lack of connectivity still faced in the aviation industry.

“It is a great honour to be assuming this role at this time, and to have the opportunity to help governments and ICAO play an important part in how this sector builds back better and recovers from the global pandemic,” Salazar said.

“We are still facing some tremendous challenges to the restoration of global air connectivity today, and with many regions and populations all over the world facing prolonged economic, social, and emotional hardship as a result.”

ICAO said the appointment comes as the international flight network continues to assure the “efficient global movement of food, vaccines, e-commerce, and other essential supplies and personnel, despite the air transport industry still being severely confronted by COVID-19, greatly diminished routes, and slowly rebounding international air travel and tourism”.

FIATA, TIACA, GEA and IPCSA also paid tribute and thanked Fang Liu, who is stepping down as Secretary General of ICAO after six years, and who has been a “strong advocate for cargo during her tenure”.

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