New ICAO SecGen urges states to lift flight restriction for air cargo

By Damian Brett

Juan Carlos Salazar, ICAO. Source ICAO

Air cargo will play an increasingly important role in the world’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and member states should temporarily lift restrictions for air cargo operators, according to Juan Carlos Salazar who took up the role of ICAO secretary general earlier this week.

In a webinar on the future of aviation, Salazar highlighted the central role air cargo had played during the pandemic by transporting PPE, vaccines and consumer goods.

He said that around the world cargo had gained in importance. He gave the example of his home country of Colombia which handled record volumes of air cargo last year and added that this is happening in countries around the world.

“I expect air cargo to play a more and more important role through the distribution of the vaccines, for example, through the recovery of the international economies — the economies of various states around the world.”

With this is mind, he urged member states to follow the Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) recommendation 16 that encourages the implementation of seventh freedom rights for air cargo.

“Member States are encouraged to consider the temporary lifting of restrictions to air cargo operations, including but not limited to granting extra-bilateral rights, in particular for all-cargo services, to foreign airlines to facilitate the transportation of essential goods, supplies and Covid-19 vaccines,” the recommendation published earlier this year reads.

Seventh freedom rights allow airlines to fly between countries that are not their own.

At the time the latest CART recommendations were published, ICAO said: “Global supply chains, emergency and humanitarian responses and the swift distribution of the vaccine rely predominantly on air transport. Beyond that, aviation can stimulate recovery and growth of national economies by acting as an enabler and multiplier of economic activity.”

Earlier this week, Salazar highlighted the lack of connectivity still faced in the aviation industry.

“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 aviation 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”.

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