PORT VILA: Fostering Pacific regional cooperation and organisational operational stability are the focus for the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) over the next twelve months to enable continued delivery of aviation safety and security Member services agreed the PASO Council of Directors at their Annual General Meeting.
The PASO Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 11 March 2021 was attended virtually by representatives from eight signatories of the Pacific Islands Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST) and two Associate Members.
PASO Council representation included Pacific government executive level transport and foreign affairs officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. The Singapore Civil Aviation Authority also attended on the invitation of the PASO Council.
The PASO Council considered PASO’s annual performance and direction, including improved governance arrangements, continued operational strengthening, corporate compliance, strategic partnerships and donor support, and noted the ongoing preparations for the virtual Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting (RAMM) in April.
PASO Council elections
In accordance with the PASO Constitution, the PASO Council conducted elections for the Council Chairperson and Deputy chairpersons at the Annual General Meeting.
Member State Samoa was unanimously re-elected to Chair the PASO Council. Mr. Magele Hoe J. Viali, the Secretary of Transport, Chief Executive Officer and Director General of Civil Aviation will continue as the PASO Chairperson.
Niue was appointed unopposed as the Deputy Chair of the Council and Chair of the Technical Sub-Committee by the PASO Council. Mr. Bill MacGregor, Director of Niue Civil Aviation, and a long-serving member of the PASO Council will perform the role on behalf of Niue.
With this change in PASO Council leadership, the Council of Directors took the opportunity to note Vanuatu’s long standing service and thanked them for their contribution to PASO in this capacity.
The Cook Islands was re-appointed unopposed as the Deputy Chair of the Council and Chair of the Finance Sub-Committee. Mr. John Hosking, Secretary of Transport for the Ministry of Transport will stay in the role on behalf of the Cook Islands.
Strong organisational growth
The PASO Council recognised PASO’s strong service delivery and organisational strengthening achievements over the previous twelve months despite the operational challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PASO Council Chairperson, Mr. Magele Hoe J. Viali said:
“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic there became an increasing need to improve PASO’s services for our Members and to ensure PASO is fit-for-purpose with a new organisational structure that allows better collaboration, and coordination, and encourages greater efficiencies for our Members.”
“Now the key emphasis for PASO is maintaining stability, strong governance, and organisational effectiveness to support our Members with their economic recovery efforts. Pacific aviation safety systems must be robust for when borders eventually open. We must be prepared.”
“PASO is moving forward, and we are making progress at last, despite these hard times. Hopefully with the vaccine program being rolled out it will enable some travel restrictions to be lifted so our aviation safety inspectors can attend to work on the ground,” said Mr. Viali.
Nauru’s Director of the Civil Aviation, Mr. Dominic Tabuna at the meeting said:
“We commend PASO for strategically addressing the Pacific’s need for an integrated and harmonised regulatory system to support aviation safety and enable connectivity. This good work is critical and will benefit all PICASST Signatories, and we are grateful for PASO’s assistance.”
The Council heard that PASO will embark in coming weeks on virtual country consultations and regional engagement in advance of the RAMM preparations and endorsement of individual country service-level agreements.
The PASO Council recognised that the Australian Government’s AUD $2 million COVID-19 PASO Support Package for 2021 would assist with organisational stability and technical advisor service delivery.
The funding support is directed at assisting PASO to provide aviation safety oversight services directly to Members to increase their aviation safety and security compliance levels to meet international obligations under the Chicago Convention.
“We are very grateful to the Australian Government for their strategic donor support in recognition of the economic hardship and aviation security challenges PASO and its Member countries have faced this year with the COVID-19 disruption. Australia’s assistance ensures our Members are supported during these challenging times and can continue their required aviation safety oversight,” said Mr. Viali.
“This strategic funding support enables PASO’s Technical Advisor Program, which includes provision of expert advice and assistance from six technical aviation advisors for a period of 12-months in the areas of aerodromes and ground aids, air navigation, airworthiness, and flight operations,” said PASO’s General Manager, Mr. Andrew Valentine.
PASO is well positioned to rapidly meet the needs of Members in 2021 and will have sufficient resources to respond to requests for technical assistance.
“We continue to appreciate the financial support from our other strategic partners, including the Vanuatu Government as host of PASO, the World Bank funded PASO Reform Project, and the New Zealand Government for PASO core funding and indirect support via PASO’s USOAP programme,” concluded Mr. Valentine.
The Council also welcomed Singapore’s participation at the meeting and was pleased to hear of their continued commitment to capacity building for Pacific Island civil aviation authorities.
A PASO Special Council meeting is scheduled for 24 March 2021 for the PASO Council to progress RAMM arrangements in collaboration with Members of the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat.