United Arab Emirates represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has been elected as one of the Facilitation Panel Members by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) headquarters in Montréal, Canada.
The ICAO Facilitation (FAL) Programme is based on the Chicago Convention which requires that the civil aviation community comply with laws governing the inspection of aircraft, cargo and passengers by authorities concerned with customs, immigration, agriculture and public health. All ICAO member states are obligated to adopt standards and expedite the necessary formalities in order to minimize operational delays. The facilitation aspect in civil aviation environment is important as it seeks to achieve maximum efficiency in border clearance operations and at the same time achieve and maintain high-quality security and effective law enforcement.
With the inclusion of UAE, the ICAO Facilitation Panel Members now comprises of 30 States and the panel meets once in two years. UAE is not only working closely within the Middle East region but also supporting ICAO’s initiatives in setting global civil aviation standards and guidance to enhance the safety, security, environmental effects and efficiency of civil aviation. UAE actively participates in, and makes a significant contribution to, ICAO’s major work and meetings.
Within the civil aviation community, facilitation is of interest to four major groups, namely; contracting States, air transport operators, airports and customers.
States are primarily interested in achieving full compliance with their laws and regulations, whereas operators are focused on increasing productivity by minimizing the costs of operational delays and administrative procedures. Airports view facilitation as a means to reduce congestion in passenger terminals and cargo sheds. The fourth group, air transport customers i.e. passengers and cargo shippers, wants to proceed through airports with minimal delay and difficulty. One of the FAL Programme’s challenges is to address all these interests in a coordinated manner.
UAE’s inclusion in the facilitation panel is critical at this juncture as the civil aviation sector is booming and witnessing an unprecedented growth rate. Accordingly, UAE civil aviation policy has been based around achieving a balance between trade, tourism and consumer benefits and maintaining a strong UAE based aviation sector.