PORT VILA: Regional preparations are underway for a virtual Regional Aviation Minister’s Meeting (RAMM) in April 2021 to progress Pacific aviation solutions, after the planned March 2020 RAMM in Papua New Guinea was postponed due to COVID-19 disruption.
At a Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) Special Council Meeting hosted virtually on Wednesday, 9 December 2020, regional officials from 13 Pacific countries and two regional organisations committed to the April 2021 RAMM and agreed on the meeting’s scope, including an ‘in principle’ agenda.
Achieving a robust Pacific Region aviation system that delivers safe, secure, efficient, reliable, affordable, and sustainable air services, including mitigating COVID-19 air transport disruption, are on the Ministerial Meeting’s agenda for discussion.
“The Regional Aviation Minister’s Meeting provides a platform for all Pacific Forum Members to come together and agree on our future through a formal declaration and outcome statement,” said PASO Chairman Mr. Magele Hoe J. Viali.
“Regionally we need to work inclusively to progress strategic solutions for Pacific aviation. We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to advance the future of air connectivity for our region – together. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, and it has clearly shone a light on the importance of aviation connectivity in our Pacific region, especially for small island developing States.”
Senior aviation and foreign affairs officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu joined officials from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and PASO at this week’s virtual meeting to progress the RAMM’s arrangements.
The officials agreed that the intention of the Minister’s Meeting is to provide an important platform for all participating States to request dialogue on wide-ranging civil aviation matters aimed at ensuring there is a sustainable and connected aviation environment for the Pacific.
As the only aviation-focused regional organisation in the Pacific, it was agreed that PASO will support and facilitate the Minister’s Meeting.
PASO will continue to work cooperatively with the PIFS, other CROP Agencies, non-PASO Members including the Northern Pacific States and French territories, and international aviation partners including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to progress arrangements for the RAMM.
A key focus of the Minister’s Meeting will be to seek agreement to develop a “Pacific Aviation Strategy” underpinned by a framework articulating regional aviation priorities. The proposed Strategy aims to address aviation safety and security oversight, international compliance, and capacity development.
This strategic approach is intended to enable conversations about a regional response to recommendations from ICAO’s Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) Aviation Needs Analysis, amendments to the Pacific Islands Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST), as well as the future direction and scope of PASO.
Another PASO Special Council Meeting is being scheduled for late March 2021 to confirm final arrangements and recommend a suite of actions for the Pacific Aviation Minister’s to consider and discuss.