Air Transport Infrastructure for the 21st Century
This is the theme of the Conference on the Economics of Airports and Air Navigation Services – referred to as ANSConf 2000 – which ICAO is convening with a one and a half day preparatory seminar, in Montreal, from 19 to 28 June 2000. Such conferences, the last was the Conference on Airport and Route Facility Management (CARFM) in 1991, have reviewed the general economic situation of airports and route facilities and their impact on users, and made recommendations which resulted in the formulation by the Council of policy guidance relating to airport and route facility charges, the latest of which are contained in the current edition of the Statements by the Council to Contracting States on Charges for Airports and Air Navigation Services, (Doc 9082/5). In addition, the conferences have made recommendations aimed at assistance in the implementation of cost recovery policy, the development of manuals containing guidance or reference material on organizational and financial aspect of airports and air navigation services, the undertaking of studies, and the holding of workshops on airport and route facility infrastructure financing and management.
Since the CARFM conference was held in 1991, significant changes have taken place in many States regarding the organization and operation of airports and air navigation services. Against a general background of increasing commercialization of government service providers and with the total cost of provision of airports and air navigation services not yet being covered directly in most States, there has been a marked growth in the number of autonomous authorities and application of commercial pricing and costing of airports and air navigation services at a time of increasing demands for investment in infrastructure. Taking into account the monopolistic characteristics and capacity limitations of airports and air navigation services together with the liberalization of air transport services, these developments have, in certain circumstances, given rise to questions regarding the application of basic non-discrimination principles and equitable cost recovery practices. Also, with growing attention being given to multinational cooperation in the financing and operation of air navigation services there is a need to consider the policy and support which ICAO provides in that area. Most of these issues are also highly relevant to the successful implementation of the various recommendations on organizational and economic issues developed by the Worldwide CNS/ATM Systems Implementation Conference held in Rio de Janeiro in May last year.
An issue deserving particular consideration by ANSConf 2000 is the status of the Council Statements in Doc 9082. At the time of the 1991 CARFM Conference, in the large majority of States airports and air navigation services were operated directly by a branch of government, usually a civil aviation directorate, that was also responsible for government regulatory and licensing activities. Thus responsibility for the application of ICAO policies and principles, including the operation of the State's airports and air navigation services rested with the same government branch or entity. However, the last decade has seen rapid growth in the number of States which have vested the operation of their airports and air navigation services in entities separate from the civil aviation directorate usually with the expectation that they become financially self-sufficient. These circumstances may appear in some instances to have reduced the awareness and possibly the sense of obligation to ensure that, for example, charging practices comply with ICAO policies and principles. Such structural developments together with the inherent monopolistic characteristic of airports and air navigation services, and the need for maintaining a balance between the interest of airport and air navigation services providers and users alike, have highlighted the need for consideration of the status and the related structure of the Council Statements in Doc 9082.
Taking all these issues into account the agenda developed for the Conference addresses: The economic situation of airports and air navigation service providers; organizational issues; funding issues; determinants of the economic regulation of airports and air navigation services; ICAO policy, including its status, structure and form, and elements for consideration with regard to airports and air navigation services charging principles; and guidance and assistance by ICAO.
Much interest is being expressed worldwide in the Conference and attendance is expected to exceed that of such conferences in the past, reflecting the importance being attached by States to improve the efficacy and cost effectiveness of their airport and air navigation services infrastructure while at the same time meeting their obligations and commitments under the Chicago Convention in the joint international effort to ensure the safe and orderly development of civil aviation.