Pacific Aviation Ministers have committed to revising the Pacific’s civil aviation treaty and completing a 10-year regional aviation strategy to strengthen aviation safety and security and improve air connectivity post-pandemic.
The second Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting (RAMM2) was hosted virtually on Wednesday 22 June by the Government of the Cook Islands with Ministerial representation from 17 Pacific States.
The Pacific States of Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, and Vanuatu attended the RAMM2.
Ministers discussed how to collectively transform regional aviation post-pandemic to ensure the Pacific region has a safe, secure, and sustainable aviation system for the benefit of the people of the Pacific.
RAMM2 Chair, the Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, the Honourable Robert Tapaitau said in his opening remarks:
“RAMM2 was an important opportunity for our region to come together and positively discuss our concerns over the challenges the aviation sector faces, especially where it impacts our air connectivity. Together, we expressed our commitment and attention to priorities to achieve transformative change for aviation in our region.”
“I’m pleased that we can maintain our momentum to improve aviation for all of us in our Blue Pacific region, particularly noting aviation’s important role in enabling livelihoods and connecting all our Pacific people together.”
“This Ministerial platform builds on the commitment to support the Port Moresby Declaration on Aviation Safety and Security that we endorsed at our last meeting, and ensures we have regional agreement and commitment to improve connectivity in our region,” said the Honourable Robert Tapaitau.
In his opening remarks to RAMM2, Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dr. Filimon Manoni emphasised the relevance of air transport as a key to regional economic prosperity:
“Aviation has been highlighted as a key priority area in the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy, not only as an enabler of intra-regional transport, but also as a driver of our long-term economic development, whether that be through the shipment of goods, the movement of people, or the transport of tourists across our region. … as we move forward, I propose that as the PIFS and as a CROP agency, that we work with Ministers to ensure that there are clear linkages between the 2050 Strategy and its aviation-related areas, and the critical work that Ministers are driving, particularly through the Pacific Regional Aviation Strategy.”
Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar said in a pre-recorded video to the RAMM2:
“It has been reassuring to ICAO that many Pacific Region countries are now gradually emerging from the pandemic and adapting their aviation systems to the demands of the recovery and new normal. ICAO applauds your dedicated efforts, both individually and through close regional cooperation, to modernize operations and upgrade critical infrastructure. These actions will improve network flexibility and increase resilience, and particularly in times of crisis and their aftermath.”
Agreement to revise the Pacific’s aviation treaty
In a significant milestone, RAMM2 Ministers unanimously endorsed amendments to the Pacific Islands Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST) to modernise and ensure it is fit for purpose.
PICASST amendments will now be progressed via the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting for States to consider, ahead of any necessary State treaty actions. The Cook Islands, on behalf of the region’s Aviation Ministers, will present the PICASST amendments at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.
The PICASST was originally enacted in 2005 and currently has 10 Pacific State signatories. The proposed amendments are designed to encourage wider participation beyond the current signatories to enhance regional aviation collaboration and coordination.
10-year Regional Aviation Strategy on track
Aviation Ministers also endorsed the draft 10-year Regional Aviation Strategy on an ‘in principle’ basis noting its alignment with the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy.
The Regional Aviation Strategy is a first for the Pacific region and will guide the long-term delivery of safe and sustainable aviation for the Pacific region.
An expanded draft Regional Aviation Strategy and implementation plan will be presented to Aviation Ministers by the end of 2022, following strategic engagement by the RAMM Secretariat with aviation industry stakeholders, including airlines, airports, and the tourism sector.
Post-pandemic aviation recovery
Pacific Ministers noted an update on the impacts of COVID-19 on aviation in the Pacific and agreed to support long-term collaboration and explore regional approaches for sustainable aviation recovery post-pandemic.
The COVID-19 aviation impact assessment by the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF) identifies aviation recovery scenarios and priority areas of support for States moving towards border reopening.
Pacific State’s aviation officials were tasked by Ministers to work with aviation industry stakeholders to discuss key commercial aviation sector challenges and identify implementation options, and report to Aviation Ministers at RAMM3.
“We have all felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without the pandemic the need to improve our aviation systems remained. As we start to see a way out of this pandemic our focus must be on ensuring we have a safe, secure, and sustainable aviation environment – that our Blue Pacific region will be ready to re-open to the rest of the world,” said RAMM2 Chair, the Honourable Robert Tapaitau.
Ministers welcomed the participation of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Acting Secretary General, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Secretary General, and senior officials from CROP agencies including the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), and the University of the South Pacific (USP) at the RAMM2.
RAMM2 Ministers also welcomed the attendance by government officials from the United States of America and Singapore, as well as officials from Airlines of the South Pacific Association (ASPA) Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), and the World Bank.
Aviation Ministers acknowledged the collective efforts of the region’s aviation officials over the last 12-months to progress strategic actions through regional unity and respected dialogue.
“It is exciting to witness the strengthened regional collaboration that has continued since RAMM1 last year and I am pleased with the progress made for the mutual benefit of our people,” said RAMM2 Chair, the Honourable Robert Tapaitau.
RAMM2 follows last year’s RAMM1 which was hosted by Papua New Guinea and was the first high level regional aviation meeting to convene in seventeen years following direction from Pacific Leaders in 2019.
Aviation Ministers are looking forward to meeting face-to-face for the next RAMM in late 2023. It is expected confirmation of the RAMM3 host government will be announced soon.
The Pacific Aviation Safety Office, as the RAMM Secretariat, will continue to progress regional actions in collaboration with the region’s aviation officials in the lead up to RAMM3.
ENDS/ 1194 words
The official RAMM2 Ministerial Statement and Meetings Outcomes documents are being finalised now and will be added to the RAMM2 Media Kit when available.
RAMM2 Chair, the Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, the Honourable Robert Tapaitau’s Opening Remarks
Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dr. Filimon Manoni’s Opening Remarks
Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar Opening Remarks
Port Moresby Declaration on Aviation Safety and Security
Pacific Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST)
Blue Pacific Vision and 2050 Strategy
Boe Declaration for Regional Security
ICAO and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
ICAO’s No Country Left Behind Initiative
ICAO Pacific Small States Island Developing States Study
Convention on International Civil Aviation
- Graphic: RAMM Official Logo
- Media Image: RAMM2 Zoom meeting montage. Credit: PASO
- Media Image: Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, the Honourable Robert Tapaitau
- Media Image: Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Dr. Filimon Manoni
- Media Image: Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar
- Media Image: Scene from Rarotonga International Airport. Credit: Shutterstock
- Media Image: Scene from Rarotonga International Airport. Credit: Shutterstock
- Graphic: Map of Pacific Islands Forum States
- Graphic: Framework for Aviation in the Pacific diagram