Air Transport Bureau

Aviation plays a critical role in sustainable development. The extent of the crisis faced by civil aviation has consequences that go far beyond the industry itself. A sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery will be possible only through aviation’s rapid worldwide network and connectivity, including the full resumption of travel and trade, and will enable the civil aviation network to restore its full contributions to the sustainable development of States worldwide. 

To realize these ambitious goals, all actors should work together to safeguard against downside risks, strengthen necessary confidence to resume operations, and support sustainable economic growth, creating jobs and boosting economic activity worldwide. ATB contributes to this effort by leading the development of policies, standards and guidance material covering air transport regulation, security and facilitation and environmental protection, which are necessary to the sustainable growth of civil aviation and help harmonize and streamline the regulatory framework worldwide. 

The negative effects of the pandemic on the aviation industry result mainly from the closure of borders and restrictions to travel. Therefore, the industry’s recovery requires a significant focus on facilitation activities and measures, which became a key priority in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the global response to challenges arising because of the pandemic. The assurance of coordination amongst relevant state agencies and industry stakeholders and the harmonization of air transport facilitation activities amongst States aim for ensuring efficient and effective border processes and solutions. 

The Bureau works under the direction of the Council, Air Transport Committee, Ad Hoc Cybersecurity Coordination Committee (AHCCC), Aviation Security Committee (ASC),  Climate and Environment Committee (CEC) and the Committee on Joint Support of Air Navigation Services. Secretariat support is provided to the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which is a Committee of Council.

Aviation Security and Facilitation 

ICAO plays an essential leadership role in the field of aviation security with the ultimate goal of enhancing civil aviation security worldwide. To this end, its efforts are focused primarily on developing and coordinating an effective global policy and legal framework in response to the evolving threat to civil aviation.


The Bureau also manages ICAO's Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP), coordinates the provision of assistance to States in rectifying deficiencies identified by the USAP and promotes the implementation of the Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP). In addition, the Bureau manages ICAO's air transport facilitation programme and the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (ICAO TRIP) Strategy.


In the environmental area, ICAO's overall objective is to enhance the sustainability of international aviation operations by minimizing aircraft noise and the impact of engine emissions on local air quality and the global climate. In this field, ATB focuses on: quantifying the impact of aviation on the environment through the development of methodologies, tools, models and databases; and establishing policies, standards and recommended practices to address the impact of aviation on the environment through technological, operational and market-based measures.


The Bureau develops environment-related policies and measures and assists States in preparing and implementing action plans for CO2 emissions reduction activities and implementing the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Economic Development 

The Bureau's activities in the economic fields are linked to the sustainability of air transport development. In this regard, the Bureau is responsible for developing, promoting and disseminating policies and guidance materials on major regulatory issues linked to the economic regulation and liberalization of international air transport and to the economics of airports and air navigation services. Of paramount importance is the availability of a wide range of reliable and robust aviation data. Towards this purpose, ATB manages the Statistics Programme, the forecasting activities and the economic studies, enabling the provision of authoritative information on present and future air transport development.


In response to the pandemic, ICAO has also published regular reports on its economic and financial impact on the sector and developed and published the Guidance on Economic and Financial Measures. This guide summarizes a range of possible measures that States and aviation companies can explore to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic. It also aims to ease the imminent liquidity and financial strain on the industry and strengthen its resilience to future crises.


An essential pillar of the sector's recovery will also build its resilience. This will require States, industries, and stakeholders to have reliable information and tools to monitor and assess the growing impact of COVID-19 and leverage key indicators to make informed, data-driven decisions. The ICAO Air Traffic Dashboards monitor four aspects of the effects of COVID-19 on civil aviation, including the operational, economic and aircraft utilization impacts.

In addition to supporting the Strategic Objectives above, ATB administers:
    • the Joint Financing Agreements with Denmark and Iceland for the provision certain North Atlantic air navigation services (DEN/ICE);
    • the Arrangement on the Joint Financing of the North Atlantic Height Monitoring System (HMS);
    • the Agreement on the Sharing of Costs of the Satellite Distribution System for information relating to Air Navigation (SADIS); and
    • the ICAO Public Key Directory is the main global distribution point for public signing key certificates from all issuers of ePassports.


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