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Landmark aviation meeting may lead to collaboration

Pacific islands with their own airlines have managed to survive the two year exodus imposed by the pandemic with strong backing and guarantees from their respective governments.

Like the tourism industry, the aviation industry in the Pacific has felt its share of economic woes.

Pacific aviation ministers have gathered in the Cook Islands after 18 years to discuss possible cooperation and collaboration which may result in unprecedented ventures to advance Pacific aviation.

One of the ideas being presented is a shared financial facility for purchase of airlines. Airlines pay a crucial role in the supply chain to Pacific nations and with fuel prices hiking, Pacific nations are looking for a solution to maintain the supply chain at minimal costs.

An airport in Kiribati. Pacific islands with their own airlines have managed to survive the two year exodus imposed by the pandemic with strong backing and guarantees from their respective governments. Picture: OtterCapt Twitter

The Pacific Aviation Safety Organisation’s head of legal Sam Jennings said the aviation industry has suffered globally.

He said the first step towards shared recovery and future pathways starts with the decision makers meeting and agreeing on the way forward.

“To just give you some assurance from a PASO perspective, one of the key areas that we focused on is making sure that regulatory costs – that cost of operating at that basic level of safety assurance – is really affordable for members.

“And thankfully over the last two years, and in connection with the Covid pandemic, Australia, through DFAT, has funded AUD $1.2 million, which has basically enabled PASO to provide its services to members for free.

An airstrip in Kiribati. Shared aviation may help smaller island nations. Picture: OtterCapt Twitter

“The whole point of the Regional Aviation Strategy is really to use the benefits of that club, that collective, that collaboration and coordination to actually start tackling some of these challenges.

He said that better collaboration will lead to opportunities of cost savings and better efficiencies.

This meeting could be a real opportunity for the Pacific to start tackling some of those challenges. PASO is the aviation safety regulator in the region.

For the survival of a Pacific economy, its aviation industry must be healthy. For many of these nations, tourism tends to be the biggest contributor to the economy.

The theme for the second Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting is ‘keeping the faith’.

A Fiji Airways plane at the Nadi Airport. Pacific islands with their own airlines have managed to survive the two year exodus imposed by the pandemic with strong backing and guarantees from their respective governments. Picture: Fiji Airports

Cook Islands Transport Minister Robert Tapaitau said on June 30 2021, the Port Moresby Declaration on Aviation Safety and Security known as the Port Moresby Declaration, was endorsed by regional aviation ministers, under the chairmanship of Papua New Guinea.

From that inaugural meeting, strategic areas were highlighted for the upcoming second RAMM.

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The Pacific Islands ministers endorsed the Framework for Aviation in the Pacific and agreed that the PICASST (the Pacific Island Countries Aviation Safety and Security Treaty) needs to be improved to advance regional aviation strategies and priorities to further build and maintain safe, secure, reliable, efficient, environmentally sustainable and economically viable civil aviation.

A Pacific regional aviation strategy was endorsed by the ministers and a 10-year development plan will be produced by aviation officials that will be presented.

Pacific nations have competed for the same market for a long time. Perhaps the aviation meeting will look towards a shared vision for the Pacific and make the region more accessible through potential collaboration.

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