The European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) celebrated six decades of European cooperation since its creation in 1955 during its triennial Plenary Session held on 30 June and 1 July. Gathered in the European Parliament premises, Directors General of ECAC Member States were joined by high level representatives from a wide range of ICAO Member States, international and regional organisations, including ICAO itself, IATA and ACI Europe, to name only a few, on this occasion.
Initiated by a 1953 ICAO Council’s Resolution confirming its intention to cooperate with the Council of Europe on determining a new civil aviation organisation for Europe, ECAC held its inaugural Session in Strasbourg in 1955 with then 19 Member States. Today 44 Members-strong, the widest membership of European civil aviation organisations, ECAC has been a driving force in promoting the continued development of a safe, efficient and sustainable air transport system in Europe for six decades. Supported by the Paris-based Secretariat led by Executive Secretary Salvatore Sciacchitano, it provides a unique forum for Directors General across the continent to discuss current issues and ensure a united European position in the global arena. ECAC also pioneered the concept of regional organisations which went on to be created in Latin America, African and Arab countries, as President of the Council of ICAO Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu emphasised in his opening address: “The ECAC model soon inspired the creation of other regional civil aviation bodies around the world. The organisational, administrative and financial arrangements adopted for these new regional bodies were consistent with those applied between ICAO and ECAC”.
To mark this anniversary, the first day of the Session was devoted to reflecting on ECAC’s achievements and challenges for the future, with opening addresses by ECAC President Ingrid Cherfils, ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, and European Commission Director of Aviation and International Transport Affairs Margus Rahuoja.
“2015 holds a particular significance for ECAC as the organisation celebrates its 60th anniversary. ECAC was established after the second World War by 19 countries, which saw an opportunity to build an organisation that would serve and support the development of air transport in Europe” highlighted ECAC President Ingrid Cherfils in her opening remarks “Today ECAC has 44 Member States, the largest civil aviation organisation in Europe, and many other States from around the world are associated to our activities. This diamond celebration invites us to reflect on the achievements of past years (...) It is also natural to look towards our future with ambition and enthusiasm.”
ECAC Member States and industry partners went on to debate the developments of European air transport over sixty years and the challenges faced in the present competitive market. ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin delivered the keynote address to the afternoon session on ECAC’s achievements since its creation, which were also highlighted by ECAC’ sister regional organisations (ACAC, AFCAC, LACAC) and other European organisations, such as EASA and EUROCONTROL.
The end of the day saw the signature of a new Cooperation Agreement between ECAC and Malaysia, represented by its Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.
On the second day, the meeting focused on formal decisions in relation to ECAC’s work programme and budget for the 2016-2018 period. It re-elected Ingrid Cherfils (Director General of Civil Aviation for Sweden) as ECAC President and confirmed the appointment of Patrick Gandil and Bilal Eksi (Directors General of Civil Aviation for France and Turkey respectively) as ECAC Vice-Presidents. The full membership of ECAC executive Co-ordinating Committee is available of the ECAC website.