Samoan takes over Pacific Aviation Chair

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Magele Hoe Viali, is the new Chair of the Pacific Aviation Safety Office [P.A.S.O.].

Magele has taken over from outgoing chair and Papua New Guinean, Wilson Sagati, who represented the PNG government in the regional aviation safety forum, and also announced his retirement after 13 years of contribution to Pacific aviation safety.

Magele was previously the Deputy Chair and Chair of the Finance Sub-Committee.

The changes at the P.A.S.O. Council were announced recently at their first virtual annual general meeting [A.G.M.] on Wednesday. 

The A.G.M. was attended by nine of the 10 signatories to the Pacific Islands Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty (P.I.C.A.S.S.T.) and three Associate Members.

Mr Sagati, according to a statement released by the Samoa Government, highlighted the global aviation challenges brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its impact on the island nations 

“Disruption to aviation connectivity has been extreme and appears likely to remain that way for some time. Jobs across the world in the travel and tourism sector have been lost, and more are at risk. The future remains uncertain,” he said. “We now face considerable COVID-19 disruptions to trade, tourism and regional connectivity and our region will need to be reactivated with safe aviation systems ready to respond when borders are opened once again.”

COVID-19 disruption to Pacific aviation safety and security and its impact on regional grouping’s governance and operations was the focus of the A.G.M. The PASO Council also recognised the generous ongoing financial support of the New Zealand government to strengthen P.A.S.O. with additional NZ$2.2million funding provided in April.

The P.A.S.O. Council also recommended re-scheduling the Regional Aviation Minister’s Meeting to early 2021 to continue to strategically progress and strengthen Pacific regional aviation and COVID-19 response and recovery.

The P.A.S.O. Council noted that their COVID response activities have entailed maintenance of business continuity, careful financial management, increased regional operational engagement, and active participation with key stakeholders, including the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and fellow CROP members.

Vanuatu was also appointed unopposed as the Deputy Chair of the Council and Chair of the Technical Sub-Committee, with Harrison Luen, Director General of Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Works, to perform the role on behalf of Vanuatu.

The Cook Islands was also appointed unopposed as the Deputy Chair of the Council and Chair of the Finance Sub-Committee, with Mr John Hosking to perform the role on behalf of the Cook Islands.

The Council’s A.G.M. was led by Pacific government executive level transport officials from Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu with apologies from Tuvalu.

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