The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) is to deliver a warning about the growth of ‘flags of convenience’ in aviation to the sixth ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Air Transport Conference in Montreal, which begins on Sunday.
ITF civil aviation section secretary Gabriel Mocho commented: “This event brings together stakeholders from across the world of civil aviation. Its core purpose is to develop the regulation necessary for a sustainable aviation industry – a matter of burning importance to us all. The ITF is deeply supportive of this aim.”
He continued: “The ITF will be bringing its 65 years of experience in fighting the worst excesses of flags of convenience in shipping to the debate about the rise of flags of convenience in aviation. These have become increasingly visible and potentially risk undermining transparency, accountability and even safety.”
Mocho will present the following submission: The need for a strategy to address the negative consequences of continued liberalisation: Would maritime style “flags of convenience” contribute to sustainable aviation?
This states that: There is growing evidence that airlines … are increasingly re-structuring their operations to reflect classic maritime “flags of convenience” scenarios. In the maritime sector, ships and fleets can be “flagged out” to countries (including land-locked nations with no maritime tradition, like Mongolia) that offer tax avoidance, lower-cost safety and labour standards and conditions, and inadequate safety supervisory and inspection structures. “Flagging out” is generally driven by the desire to save costs (including paying lower taxes) or to escape effective regulatory control by the State in which the vessel or fleet is beneficially owned. It is the ultimate privatisation of regulation. If a ship-owner does not like what the regulator is doing, it quits the flag and find a more convenient or compliant one.
The growing number of parallels in today’s civil aviation to traditional maritime “flagging out” scenarios is striking. Offshore registries for civil aviation aircraft exist and are growing in Aruba, Bermuda, Ireland, Malta, Georgia and Lithuania. Offshore registries for private aircraft also exist in the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, and San Marino. The ITF submission concludes:
a) Air transport workers have been used repeatedly and increasingly since 2000 as the primary shock absorbers for managing the effects of deregulation, liberalisation, the periodic business cycles and external shocks in the industry, often with devastating social consequences.
b) There is growing evidence that airlines under liberalisation are increasingly re-structuring their operations to reflect classic maritime “flags ofconvenience” scenarios.
The Conference is invited to:
a) recognize the safety and security aspects of liberalisation and the need for the participation of all stakeholders in the evolution of the economic regulation of the industry. ATConf/5 established two important basic safeguard principles that should guide the work of ATConf/6. These two basic safeguard principles should be evident in the conclusions of ATConf/6;
b) adopt a more balanced view of the social, safety and security aspects of aviationderegulation and liberalisation. The background material to ATConf/6 does not adequately examine the impact of liberalisation on civil aviation workers and the safety and security risks of aviation “flags of convenience”;
c) urge ICAO to develop in any future work program an explicit recognition that airline workers are one of the stakeholders whose interests must be considered in evaluating any proposed recommendations or guidelines; and
d) urge ICAO to work in co-operation with other United Nations agencies, particularly the ILO, in order to give a proper follow up to the conclusions of the recent ILO Global Dialogue Forum on the Effects of the Global Economic Crisis on the Civil Aviation Industry.
The ITF paper can be seen in full at http://www.icao.int/Meetings/atconf6/Documents/WorkingPapers/ATConf.6.WP.099.2.en.pdf or is available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about the ICAO conference, which runs from 18 to 22 March, preceded by a symposium on the 17th, see http://www.icao.int/Meetings/atconf6/Pages/default.aspx
About the ITF
The ITF is a global union federation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide. Unions – currently around 700 from some 150 countries – affiliate to the ITF, which represents them at the global level. For more details pleas see: www.itfglobal.org/about-us/moreabout.cfm
A specialized agency of the United Nations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection.