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Apia, Samoa

September 19, 2001

Forum Aviation Ministers held their third meeting, in Apia, Samoa, on September 19, 2001. The meeting was chaired by the Hon. Palusalue Fa'apo II, Minister for Transport, Samoa.

In attendance were the Prime Minister of Cook Islands and Ministers from Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and the Republic of the Marshall Islands were also represented. Representatives from the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the Association of South Pacific Airlines, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme were present.

Ministers deplored the misuse of civil aviation in the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, and expressed their condolences to all those affected. They noted the heightened aviation security arrangements in the region.

Ministers undertook their second review, the first review having taken place in 1999, of progress in implementing the Forum Aviation Action Plan as formulated during their meeting in 1998 and endorsed by leaders at their meeting in the Federated States of Micronesia in August 1998.

Ministers noted that under the Forum Aviation Action Plan the following three overall strategies had been pursued:

(a) Economic Regulation and Liberalisation

(b) Regional Safety Regulation Oversight Programme

(c) Airspace Management

Developments in these three strategies are noted below, together with the decision taken in respect of each.

Economic Regulation and Liberalisation

Ministers received a pre-negotiating draft for a Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement (PIASA) which will form the basis of a multilateral air services agreement among Forum island countries. Ministers welcomed the progress made in developing this strategy. They also noted that greater account should be taken of developments in other fora concerning multilateral air service agreements and that the final agreement should allow sufficient time for adjustment to a new regime and measures that would encourage development of new air routes within the region.

In considering the goal set at the 1999 Forum Aviation Policy Meeting of "... enhancing competitiveness within the aviation sector and ... national economies", Ministers agreed to:

(a) endorse the principle of a single air services agreement among Forum island countries based upon the draft PIASA;

(b) task Forum Aviation Officials to examine the draft PIASA, consult stakeholders, analyse the potential positive and negative impacts and prepare for negotiations toward a final agreement;

(c) direct the Forum Secretariat to assist in the review process (including reviewing other existing models for such an agreement), facilitate negotiations between Forum island countries, and examine mechanisms for integrating the proposed PIASA into the Pacific Island Country Trade Agreement; and

(d) acknowledge the eventual need to consider the appropriate application of the agreement to Australia and New Zealand.

Regional Safety Regulation Oversight Programme

Ministers considered reports on the viability and benefits of establishing a Pacific Aviation Safety Office. They considered that aviation security should be one of the functions of the PASO. They also noted that uncertainties remain over the costing and funding of the proposal, but agreed that the proposal had significant merit to pursue.

Accordingly, Ministers agreed to:

(a) approve in principle an inter-governmental cooperative approach to establishing the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO);

(b) appoint a task force to:

(i) solicit detailed cost proposals from countries interested in hosting the PASO; and

(ii) consider these proposals and to work out a detailed implementation plan, including funding and membership scenarios.

Airspace Management

Ministers received the final report on Cooperative Airspace Management, commissioned by the Asian Development Bank, but noted that this did not sufficiently address all the issues of concern. They also noted a report on discussions held among air traffic service providers and airlines. Ministers regretted the lack of progress made to date on this issue but recognised that the opportunity previously available to utilise new technologies in conjunction with the proposal had passed.

They also concurred that it was important that developed Members assist Forum island countries in developing their capacities to manage their airspace and of air traffic service providers recognising the importance of countries being able to make their own decisions concerning the management of their air space.

Accordingly Ministers agreed to cease further work on the Pacific Upper Airspace Management concept at this time while recognising that at some future time there may be an opportunity to implement new, or guide existing, air traffic management arrangements to address the objectives of the Forum Aviation Action Plan with respect to airspace management.

Air Freight for Export

Ministers noted the importance of airfreight to the development of their economies and welcomed the report on Air Freight for Export, commissioned by the Forum Fisheries Agency. Ministers agreed to:

(a) develop national policies related to aviation services and air freight for exports from a variety of sectors, and

(b) direct the Forum Secretariat to collaborate with the Forum Fisheries Agency to develop a regional action plan, including examination of the need for institution of quality control measures prior to shipment, and provision of support for the development of national policies.

Ministers thanked the Government of Samoa for their preparation for, and hosting of, their meeting.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at 

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