The Air Transport Conferences


The 21st Session of the ICAO Assembly (held in 1974) adopted Resolution A21-25 concerning air transport problems on a worldwide basis in the light of serious economic difficulties facing the international air transport industry and directed the ICAO Council to draw up, as a matter of urgency, a descriptive list of those major problems confronting international air transport that were not already being dealt with through existing ICAO machinery on a worldwide basis. This draft list was considered by the Council in early 1975; after seeking States’ views, the Council selected for consideration at a worldwide air transport conference, expected to be held in April 1977, the following four agenda items: 1) tariff enforcement; 2) policy concerning international non-scheduled air transport; 3) regulation of capacity in international air transport services; 4) machinery for the establishment of international air transport fares and rates.


This was the first ICAO World-Wide Air Transport Conference of this nature (called SATC, Special Air Transport Conference) and the first of a long series of major Air Transport Conferences (all held in Montréal), as listed hereafter. From the 4th Conference in 1994, they were named World-Wide Air Transport Conferences, with a theme associated to the conference.







Contracting States



International Organizations


13 to 26 April 1977






12 to 28 February 1980






22 October to 7 November 1985






6 to 10 April 1992






23 November to 6 December 1994






24 to 28 March 2003






18 to 22 March 2013



39 Observer Delegations

49 Other Delegations


The 2nd Conference developed 32 recommendations and provided an opportunity for governments to take stock of current issues in international air transport on the basis of conclusions of two panels of experts which had been working since the first Air Transport Conference in 1977. In reviewing recent developments on the regulation of aircraft capacity on international routes and the establishment of international fares and rates, the Conference was confronted with the positions of some States for a more liberal market and those of many governments for a firmly regulated international market.


The 3rd Conference approved 23 recommendations on different aspects of regulatory policies governing scheduled and non-scheduled services, unilateral measures which affect international air transport, the role of governments in the tariff field, rules and conditions associated with international tariffs, and tariff enforcement.


It is to be noted that ICAO held a World-Wide Air Transport Colloquium (WATC) in Montréal in 1992, with the central theme of “Exploring the Future of International Air Transport Regulation”. Participants heard and debated remarks from some 40 speakers and panelists on important air transport regulatory issues. The Colloquium largely reflected the trend towards the liberalization of air transport regulation and the associated need for safeguards, involving new kinds of agreements among national governments on how to develop the world’s air transport system.


The 4th World-Wide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/4) conducted a comprehensive examination of all facets of the economic regulation of international air transport (developed by the Study Group of Experts on Future Regulatory Arrangements (GEFRA) and the Secretariat) since the 1940s, ranging from route, traffic and operational rights to “doing business” issues like ground handling, sales and marketing and computer reservation systems. It reached conclusions concerning ten specific aspects and identified eight areas for further study. The theme of this Conference was “International Air Transport Regulation – Present and Future”.


A strong global consensus on the framework for the economic liberalization of the air transport industry emerged out of the 5th World-Wide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/5) on “Challenges and Opportunities of Liberalization”. The Conference concluded by approving by acclamation a declaration of global principles to create an environment in which international air transport may develop and flourish in a stable, efficient and economical manner without compromising safety and security and while respecting social and labour standards.


The 6th World-Wide Air Transport Conference (ATConf/6) on “Sustainability of Air Transport“ was held in Montréal from 18 to 22 March 2013. The purpose of this Conference was to update ICAO policies for the long-term growth of international civil aviation and consider the overall sustainability of air transport, meaning safe, secure and environmentally friendly operations for both passenger and cargo traffic that provide airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and other partners of air transport value chain with a reasonable expectation of profitability, meaning supporting competitive economies and promoting balanced regional development.



Commemorative covers issued for the World-Wide Air Transport Colloquium (WATC) held in Montréal in 1992.


On the occasion of the 4th World-Wide Air Transport Conference (1994), a special hand-stamp was affixed on the already overprinted first day covers (with the 50th anniversary logo and text in gold letters) issued by Canada Post Corporation for the 50th anniversary of ICAO.

The cachet shows Air Traffic Services (inset photo) and complements the stamp by depicting the modern airport tower located at Saint-Hubert, Province of Quebec, Canada.







Commemorative covers issued for the 6th Air Transport Conference held in Montréal in March 2013.

The Picture Postage or personalized stamp (with two versions as shown here-above) was specially created for this Conference; it mimics a runway sign, as specified in Annex 14 – Aerodromes; the cancel was prepared in cooperation with Canada Post and the design in blue reproduces the banner of the Conference.


Excerpt from The Journal of UN Philatelists, Vol. 37 #5, October 2013.