Implementation of the aviation work programme component is through the development, coordination and implementation of transport policy in the region. The Forum Secretariat also undertakes associated activities and services reflecting the priorities determined by Forum Aviation Ministers, Forum Economic Ministers and Forum Leaders, and including those determined under the Pacific Plan which has set the relevant goal as to "enhance and stimulate economic growth" through "improved efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure development and associated service delivery".
Forum Aviation Ministers met in 2005 to consider aviation issues such as economic regulation and liberalisation, airspace management, air freights for export, and aviation safety and security, and produced Forum Aviation Action Plans to implement decisions from these meetings.
Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement (PIASA)
The Pacific Islands Air Services Agreement, or PIASA, is a regional agreement that will provide for a multi-lateral basis for liberalising air services between the Forum Island Countries (FICs). PIASA's main objective is to establish a framework for the gradual integration of aviation services of the Forum members in a way that is fully supportive of sustainable development of the Forum island countries.
It was at the first Aviation Policy Meeting in 1998 that Forum Aviation Ministers identified two main issues as important for the region- the first being the problems created by the numerous bilateral air service agreements that are needed between member countries, and second, the need to adapt to the changing world situation with respect to globalisation and trade agreements. In 1999, Ministers noted that with regards to moves toward a single aviation market, it was agreed that drafting a FIC multilateral agreement be undertaken under the auspices of the Forum Secretariat so that member countries can fully consider its implications.
Ministers, at their meeting in 2001, endorsed the principle of a single air services agreement among the FICs based on the proposed PIASA, and directed the Forum Secretariat to assist in the review process, facilitate negotiations between FICs, and examine mechanisms for integrating the proposed PIASA into the Pacific Island Country Trade Agreements (PICTA).
The PIASA is driven by the need to allow air services and air transport to fully develop and become more efficient given the vast distances between the forum island countries, the relatively small market economies, and the expensive air travel costs. In doing so, PIASA aims to encourage reduced air travel costs in the region, and thus encourage an in flow of travel to the region, increasing tourism numbers. Other notable benefits include:
• increased FIC airline access to air routes between FICs;
• expansion and efficiency improvements for FIC airlines;
• greater use of code sharing and alliances;
• greater connectivity within the region to improve its attractiveness to tourists;
• greater cargo options for exporters and importers; and
• cost savings to airlines which can be shared with service users
The PIASA was presented at the 2003 Forum for Leaders signing. To date there are ten (10) signatories - Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu - and six (6) ratifications - Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. PIASA required six (6) ratifications and entered into force 30 days after the sixth ratification or accession instrument was deposited with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The Agreement came into effect on 13th October 2007.
Pacific Aviation Safety Office
The Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) is a registered international organisation in operation for the benefit of the member States, based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Forum Aviation Ministers, at their meeting in 1998, adopted an Action Plan to adopt a policy framework for safety regulation. Then in 2001, Forum Aviation Ministers met in Apia and approved in principle an intergovernmental co-operative approach to establishing PASO. In 2002, this was realised and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office opened in Vanuatu. The current members of PASO are: Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
PASO membership is open to Forum member countries.
PASO is responsible for overseeing regional aviation safety oversight for its membership. It will be responsible for overseeing airport and airline operational safety and security standards and ensuring they are met in its member countries. Its core set of responsibilities will include:
Personnel licensing for these disciplines.
The primary goal of PASO is to provide in the long term an improvement in quality and extension of these services, at a lower total cost than would have to be paid by the industry and member governments to achieve these goals by themselves.
PASO will provide an advisory service to the national aviation authorities of participating States and will provide support to the local aviation industry. PASO services are available to its membership, however, it is anticipated that other countries will join PASO over time as their needs require and as the organisation demonstrates its value and capabilities. It is also possible that some countries will utilise PASO services on a contract basis. PASO is designed to accommodate future growth through both of these mechanisms.
The Pacific Islands Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (PICASST) is a multilateral treaty formalising PASO under international law. This was open for signing at the Forum Leaders Meeting in 2004 in Apia, Samoa. On the 11 June 2005, the PICASST entered into force, following the receipt of the fifth (5th) signature on 12 May 2005. The Parties to the PICASST are Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
PASO is governed by a Council of Directors comprising of representatives from each PASO Member Country and invited Observers who include the Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.