Russia Loses ICAO Council Seat

Following aviation-related attacks on Ukraine, Russia was six votes short for retaining its place on ICAO’s governing council.

Russia no longer has a seat on ICAO’s governing council. [Courtesy: ICAO]

Russia's actions during its brutal and continued siege of Ukraine cost it its seat as one of 36 members of the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) governing council in Montreal, Canada, this week.

Central to Russia's loss of support among other member states—and their votes needed to secure its position on the United Nations aviation council—was its aviation-related attacks on Ukraine, from targeting its airports to invading its airspace. 

The bombing of Ukrainian airports during the ongoing war violated international aviation accord held in place since 1944, Yuliya Kovaliv, Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, said, according to Reuters. "It is important that all the ICAO members addressed such a drastic breach of the Chicago Convention," she said.

Russia's 80 votes were six short of what it needed to keep its seat on the governing council, MSN reported. It was the first time a member state had been voted out of the council, according to reports.

"We cannot accept that a member, breaching so clearly the Chicago Convention, sits in the very council that should act as its guardian. This is not about politics. It is about the fundamentals of this organization," European Union Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said before the vote, MSN reported.

Russian aviation officials quickly denounced the rebuke. "We'd like to express regret regarding the outcome of the voting," Russia's representative said following the voting results, Reuters reported. "We view this as a purely political step and has nothing to do with Russia's position in the field of civil aviation."

In the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for example, the Antonov An-225 Mriya—the world’s largest, and arguably most iconic cargo aircraft, was destroyed at Gostomel Airport (UKKM). 

During the meeting, ICAO members also set a lofty environmental goal of net-zero carbon emissions for international flights  by 2050. 

While the goal is the first ever long term climate goal affirmed by aviation, it is non-binding.

"[S]etting a goal is one thing," Haldane Dodd, executive director at Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), said, according to "Making it a reality is where the hard work really begins and we need to continue—and accelerate—the efficiency improvements and energy transition that is already underway across the industry."

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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