ICAO’s Sixth Worldwide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/6) took place from 18-22 March 2013. The Conference which had for theme “Sustainability of Air Transport” sought to develop guidelines and an action plan for a global regulatory framework. The Conference discussed issues such as industry and regulatory developments, market access liberalization, air carriers substantial ownership and effective control, consumer protection, fair competition, safeguards, taxation of and other levies on international air transport, economics of airports and air navigation services, as well as the implementation of the ICAO policies.
With one of the largest delegations to the event, the UAE had an active and constructive participation to ATConf/6. The UAE presented 4 working papers. A number of recommendations advanced by the UAE were ultimately fully recognized by ATConf/6. These include the need for ICAO to advance and strengthen its vital work on air transport, and in particular liberalization, to continue assisting States by providing studies that address the effects of liberalization, and the establishment of an air transport fund in order to seek voluntary contributions from member States to boost the organization’s work in this field.
Along with other States and industry stakeholders, the UAE successfully advocated the convenience of further engaging the organization to promote the ratification of the Montreal Convention 1999 – an international instrument addressing the air carrier contractual liability that a number of Arab States have yet to be parties to.
The UAE also participated in a number of small working groups that there formed to reach consensus on some delicate issues. Perhaps the most sensitive issue addressed during ATConf/6 involved discussions on fair completion. As testimony of its unquestionable leadership, the UAE was invited to represent ACAC during the discussions of the small working group on fair completion. Thanks to the constructive approach taken by the UAE, ATConf/6 agreed on a number of recommendations to advance the organization’s work in this area. Amongst others, these recommendations include the need for States to take into account that fair competition is an important general principle in the operation of international services, and that they should develop, while taking into account the principle of national sovereignty, competition laws and policies that apply to air transport.
ATConf/6 was an unquestionable success and it will most likely shape the future of air transport for decades to come. The UAE was one of the main players in achieving such success.