MONTREAL, 8th December, 2016 (WAM) 2016 (WAM) – In a message on the International Civil Aviation Day, celebrated annually on 7th December, the head of the United Nations civil aviation agency underlined the socio-economic importance and contribution of air travel and aviation.

According to ICAO, aviation operations generate more than $2.7 trillion in global gross domestic product (GDP) and provide employment for more than 63.5 million people worldwide.

Fang Liu, the Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), said that the Organisation, in its 70 years of service, has supported the development of over 12,000 civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices that have helped to align the regulations and operations of different countries and cultures around the world and enable air transport’s “truly global reach.”

Ms. Fang further said that with the aviation sector’s continuing growth, new challenges such as infrastructure and investment are also emerging and that air traffic management systems and approaches need to be modernised in order to accommodate more aircrafts in a finite airspace.

Noting ICAO’s work in raising global awareness and engagement on such issues, she said: “More and more today, governments are becoming better aware of how fundamental air transport access is to a wide range of their socio-economic development objectives in the decades ahead.”

She also highlighted that air transport and systems are vital to the attainment of universal development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and urged governments to keep this issue in mind when revising their development and infrastructure planning.

Recalling the progress made in civil aviation in 2016, she highlighted that the agreement on offsetting and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from international flights was the world first such agreement for any industry sector.

“We are very proud of our role at the heart of the global cooperation which aligns and optimises this progress, and we will continue to work in the years ahead to keep our planet’s skies safe and secure, and more liberalised and efficient, for the benefit of all,” she concluded.

In 1996, noting the contribution of international civil aviation in creating and preserving friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, the UN General Assembly designated December 7 as International Civil Aviation Day. The date also marks the anniversary of the 1944 signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, in Chicago, the US.