States have the primary role in developing their own air transport system, which should be resilient to future crises and underpinned by effective regulatory oversight capability and capacity. ICAO encourages States to adopt a flexible approach to enable a sustainable recovery and growth of air transport at the national, regional and/or global level. To this end, measures should be harmonized to the extent possible, in line with ICAO's standards, plans and policies, proportionate to the evolution of the public health situation, and coordinated among civil aviation, public health authorities and other ministries, as well as with relevant international and regional authorities, and industry.
Building the necessary resilience will depend on a high-level of commitment and engagement at every level, namely Governments (including national civil aviation and public health authorities), international and regional organizations (including ICAO), and the entire civil aviation industry, as well the travelling public.
Recalling aviation's contribution towards national, regional and global priorities, States are urged to engage political efforts and willingness to lead a full post-COVID-19 recovery and to plan for future crises as part of their national aviation strategies. To strengthen this commitment, ICAO should consider convening a high-level meeting.
In addressing COVID-19 and future crises, it is important that obligations and commitments under international agreements and practices are upheld. This includes the need to pay particular attention to global standards, plans and policies related to all ICAO's Strategic Objectives.
This pandemic has reaffirmed civil aviation as a worldwide enabler of support and recovery in times of crisis. In the process of building resilience, States should recognize the vital contributions of aviation and strive for the orderly recovery and long-term sustainability, consistent with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The road to a more resilient aviation system is underpinned by comprehensive advocacy and outreach, including clear, accurate, transparent and continuous communication among all stakeholders, as well as towards the general public. Harmonized and comprehensible information, emphasizing the safety, security and operational integrity of the aviation systems will strengthen compliance with the risk mitigation measures taken and help build resilience while dealing with recovery and growth in demand.
ICAO, civil aviation and public health authorities, in cooperation with the industry, should
communicate clearly and effectively to strengthen the confidence of the travelling public and help individuals understand how they can contribute to a safe travel journey. Digital platforms should be used wherever feasible. ICAO should support this by publicizing this report.
Aviation plays a particularly important role in meeting the needs of the vulnerable segments of the international community, namely Small Island Developing States, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Least Developed Countries, as well as in providing essential connectivity to remote regions and isolated islands.
ICAO should identify the resources necessary for the coordination and provision of implementation packages containing assistance, guidance, training and other services to States in need under the ICAO No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative. International financial institutions are called on to provide financial/in-kind assistance for States that do not have the means and capacity to meet their needs and to mitigate the existing and future risks.
While the immediate priority is to manage the current crisis, it is vital to identify lessons learned and experience gained from this challenge as the world recovers and the civil aviation industry moves onto a more stable footing. States and the industry will need to seize the momentum for a "bigger picture" analysis of the measures and steps taken during the crisis which will serve as foundation for defining a more resilient, sustainable aviation sector in the future.
Building on the insights and practices, particular focus should be placed on the improvement of risk management and crisis preparedness in response to unforeseen situations. This could be achieved by considering the extension of the scope of State Safety Programmes (SSP) in Annex 19 to the Chicago Convention – Safety Management, allowing States and service providers to manage risks in a more integrated manner. Such preparedness will rely on States' capabilities to strengthen their national emergency planning, as well as on the establishment of clear coordination, communication mechanisms and, processes at all levels to be triggered in the event of a future crisis.
ICAO should lead and facilitate the review of global standards, plans and policies, especially health-related provisions in coordination with the WHO, to support States in building a resilient aviation system. As part of this work, ICAO should consider the recommendations from the recently-created ICAO Task Force on Health Issues Outbreaks in Aviation which will review all the health-related provisions and corresponding guidance material contained in Annex 9 to the Chicago Convention. States are encouraged to contribute to the work of the Task Force.
In light of this, it is important for States to embrace the speed of world's change and to adopt innovative solutions enabling, inter alia, to make aviation regulatory processes and governance, including ICAO's own systems and processes, more streamlined and responsive to future such events. The lessons learned from the flexible work and meeting arrangements, accelerated digitalization, and ad-hoc, fast-tracking of proposals should all be incorporated into the aviation regulatory operational processes.