Recognition of Dignitaries

Angela and Jeff have quite clearly and eloquently recounted the extremely cordial and productive environment that marked Roberto Kobeh-Gonzales’s tenure as President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council.

I first met Roberto at the 2008 IATA AGM in AGM in Istanbul. Roberto’s presence at our AGMs has been a very important reminder that aviation—the wonderful industry with which we all share a connection—is built on principles of partnerships.

Most industries see the natural formation of partnerships across the value chain. But the collaboration between industry and governments I believe is somewhat unique to aviation. And when it works it is a win-win proposition. The industry grows stronger and that drives benefits across the global economy and supports world-wide social development.

Many members of the IATA team—myself included—have had the opportunity to interact directly with Roberto. This work has covered the main priorities of aviation. Examples include launching a concerted effort to improve safety in Africa and exploring ways to improve the industry’s security—with a special focus on how travelers and shippers experience it.

  • Fatigue risk management – developed with IFALPA, IATA, ICAO
  • Long range operations and fuel reserves – saved millions of dollars and tons of CO2
  • How to deal with volcanic ash – avoid a repeat of the nightmares of 2010
  • Alleviation of age limit rules for pilots
  • Harmonization of operation specifications for foreign operators

No matter what the issue, we’ve always been able to count on Roberto’s natural inclination for collaboration as the cornerstone on which to build solutions.

The most outstanding example of this open door policy and eagerness to understand what role industry could play in the further development of civil aviation was the challenge of sustainability. In April 2008, the industry formally endorsed the four pillar strategy on climate change in a commitment to action. A few months later, Roberto was taking airlines up on that commitment at our AGM and urging governments to work together through ICAO to deliver a global approach to the environment.

As we all know, that approach eventually led to an historic agreement at the 38th ICAO Assembly last month. Roberto’s leadership of ICAO’s Council played a major role in that success.

European developments since then mean that ICAO’s unique convening power to find consensus will remain just as important under the leadership of Roberto’s successor, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.

Roberto’s shoes will not be easy to fill. It is a challenge that Roberto himself is very familiar with having successfully taken office after the legendary tenure of Dr. Asad Kotaite.

We look forward to Benard’s successful continuation of Roberto’s fine record, and I would like to extend a commitment to him. The airline industry holds in very high esteem the long-established tradition of partnership—among countries and with industry—that is at the heart of ICAO’s effectiveness and closely associated with the traditions of office that he is taking up.

You can count on our continued support so that the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation can continue to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world.

On behalf of the world’s airline community, I will take this opportunity to thank Roberto for his partnership and friendship, and to wish him much happiness for a long, happy and well-deserved retirement.