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2 Oct, 2007

Aviation Safety? Not When It’s a Question of Serving U.S.Foreign Policy, Says Iran

Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organization to deliver on its claimed focus on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment to Iran’s civil aviation industry.

In this dispatch:

1. FIRST GUIDE ON AGE-FRIENDLY CITIES LAUNCHED: With an estimated one million people worldwide turning 60 every month, global cities face the daunting challenge of redesigning their services and facilities to cater to the needs of the aged and the ageing. A checklist of views from elderly people in many cities worldwide has been compiled into a new guidebook that could prove of extensive help for hotels, airports, airlines and others catering to this growing market.

2. AVIATION SAFETY? NOT WHEN IT’S A QUESTION OF SERVING U.S. FOREIGN POLICY, SAYS IRAN: Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organization to enforce the letter of its legally binding Chicago Convention and deliver on its claimed focus on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment to Iran’s civil aviation industry.

3. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Responses to Travel Impact Newswire Edition 52 headlined “2008: A YEAR OF RECKONING FOR PATA”



LONDON/GENEVA, 1 OCTOBER 2007 – With an estimated one million people worldwide turning 60 every month, 80% of them in developing countries, global cities face the daunting challenge of fundamentally redesigning their services and facilities to cater to the needs of the aged and the ageing. Although changes in the key physical, social and services attributes of age-friendly urban settings will be mainly the responsibility of urban planners, what will be good for the local populations will also be good for mature-age tourists and travellers, whose numbers are also growing.

On October 1, the International Day of Older Persons, the World Health Organization released what is claimed to be the first guide on age-friendly cities. Based on consultations with older people in 33 cities in 22 countries, the guidebook is a checklist of age-friendly features – such as, sufficient public benches that are well-situated, well-maintained and safe, sufficient public toilets that are clean, secure, accessible by people with disabilities and well-indicated, etc.

Aged people in Istanbul, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, and Tokyo were part of the consultation along with many other regional centres and towns. Cities that collaborated in the consultation are planning to address the barriers that have been identified and many others want to adopt the guide, the WHO says.

“Age-friendly cities benefit people of all ages, not just older people, and WHO is committed to disseminating and promoting the implementation of the guide worldwide,” said Mrs Daisy Mafubelu, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family and Community Health. She says that proportion of older people in global population is predicted to double from 11% in 2006 to 22% in 2050. “At the same time, our world is growing increasingly urban: as of 2007, more than half of the global population are urban dwellers and by 2030 about three out of every five people in the world are expected to live in cities.”

These trends are occurring at a much faster rate in the developing world: currently, the number of older people in developing countries is about twice the number in developed countries. By 2050, some 80% of the older people will be living in less developed regions. For cities to cater to these changes and become more age-friendly, they will need:

<> well-maintained and well-lit sidewalks;

<> public buildings that are fully accessible to people with disabilities;

<> city bus drivers who wait until older people are seated before starting off and priority seating on buses;

<> enough reserved parking spots for people with disabilities;

<> housing integrated in the community that accommodates changing needs and abilities as people grow older;

<> friendly, personalised service and information instead of automated answering services;

<> easy-to-read written information in plain language;

<> public and commercial services and stores in neighbourhoods close to where people live, rather than concentrated outside the city; and

<> a civic culture that respects and includes older persons.

The guide is already being used in several parts of the world to initiate age-friendly city development. Networks are being developed in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Spain, the UK, the Caribbean Region and the Middle East.

“Older people are concentrated in cities and will become even more so,” said Dr Alex Kalache, Director of the WHO Ageing and Life Course Programme. “Today around 75% of all older people living in the developed world are urban dwellers – expected to increase to 80% in 2015. More spectacularly, in developing countries the number of older people in cities will increase from 56 million in 2000 to over 908 million in 2050. The vast majority of older people live in their homes and communities, but in environments that have not been designed with their needs and capacities in mind.”


The guidebook is one component of the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project, designed to support governments in developing and strengthening health and social policies in an ageing world. The WHO released a Policy Framework on Active Ageing in 2002, was aimed at “optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.” Grounded in the UN-recognised principles of independence, participation, dignity, care and self-fulfilment, it takes into account the biological, psychological, behavioural, economic, social and environmental factors that operate over the course of a person’s life to determine health and well-being in later years.

After an initial phase was intended to make front-line primary health care services more “age-friendly”, WHO is now turning its attention to the environmental and social factors that contribute to active ageing in urban settings. In the developed world, three-quarters of older persons live in cities. Although proportionately more older persons live in rural areas in the developing world, rapid urbanisation is gradually reversing the picture: large cities already count substantial numbers of older adult residents.

An age-friendly community benefits people of all ages. Improving air and water quality protects growing children and older persons with environmental sensitivities. Secure neighbourhoods are safe for children, youth, women and older adults. Families experience less worry and stress when their older relations have the services and supports they need. Barrier-free buildings and streets enhance the mobility and independence of both younger and older persons with disabilities. The whole community benefits from the participation of older persons in volunteer or paid work and civic activities. Finally, the local economy benefits from the patronage of older adult consumers.

The Age-Friendly City Project focuses on the “lived” experience of older people – that is, what seniors experience as age-friendly in their daily lives in the community – and involves them as full partners from start to finish. The WHO and partners from all continents consulted with older persons, and then with community leaders and experts, to identify the major physical and social barriers to active ageing. Each partner then used this knowledge to develop, implement and evaluate local action plans. To share the learnings, the WHO has compiled the results into practical “Age-Friendly City” guidelines that could be used by cities around the world.

The guidebook was produced by the WHO in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ministry of Health of British Columbia and 2010 Legacies Now. Many other governments and civil society organisations are partners in the Global Age-Friendly Cities project.


<> In Rio de Janeiro and Cancun, living close to the ocean is seen as a definite advantage, as is living close to the river in Melville and London. In Himeji, older people value the quiet and peacefulness of their environment.

<> In Tripoli, the smell of smoke from narguileh (oriental water pipes) is said to be “suffocating”, especially in the evenings and during Ramadan. In Jamaica, concern is expressed at the loudness of music, compounded by the explicit language used in the songs.

<> In New Delhi, for example, some green spaces are said to be poorly maintained and have become “dumps”, and in Himeji, some parks are considered to be unsafe.

<> Caregivers in Halifax see a need for small, quieter, contained green spaces in the fringe areas of the city rather than the large busy parks used by children and skateboarders. Older people in Amman recommend special gardens for their age group, while older people in New Delhi suggest demarcated areas in parks for older people. Better park maintenance is called for in several locations.

<> In Melville, it is suggested that the crossing lights have a visual “countdown” so that pedestrians know how much time they have to cross the road. The auditory signals at pedestrian crossings are much appreciated in Istanbul, and in Portland and Udine, auditory as well as visual cues at crossings are recommended.

<> In Geneva, cyclists are thought by some to be a danger to older people. In Udine, it is suggested there should be two pathways one for cyclists and one for pedestrians. Older people in Cancun, Portland and Saanich value the walking trails provided in their cities.

<> In Melbourne, the need to walk long distances is seen as a barrier to using large shopping centres. In Istanbul, shopping centres have escalators but older people find them difficult to use.

<> Another barrier identified in some cities, including London and Tokyo, is the disappearance of the local shop or convenience store. With their closing, older people lose a potential source of social contact and are required to travel further to shop.

<> Geneva reportedly offers free transport for someone accompanying an older person, and in Dundalk, people 75 years and older are entitled to a Companion Pass. In some cities, however, the cost of public transport is considered to be too expensive. Older people in Nairobi complain about the arbitrary price increases charged because of bad weather, public holidays and peak travel periods.

<> A particular problem identified in developing cities, such as Amman, is drivers’ reluctance to pick up older people. In Delhi and Geneva, older people highlight the difficulties caused when bus drivers do not stop close enough to the curb to enable them to get on and of the bus safely.

<> People are seen to be impatient with older people who are slower doing things, and rude gestures are made towards older drivers. In Sherbrooke, they feel they are treated like children. Older adults in Amman also feel they are criticised by young people for their different clothes and way of talking.

<> Neighbourhoods are seen to not be cohesive in Islamabad and Mexico City, and in London, the neighbours seem to change so quickly that people no longer have the time to meet and get to know one another.



Iran has challenged the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to enforce the letter of its legally binding Chicago Convention and deliver on its claimed focus on aviation safety by pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions on supply of spare parts and equipment to Iran’s civil aviation industry.

For the second year running, Iran called on the ICAO General Assembly to “act appropriately” to help rescind those aspects of the US sanctions that apply to civil aviation. It strongly implies that aviation safety of secondary importance to ICAO if weighed against serving the interests of US foreign policy.

In a working paper presented to the 36th ICAO General Assembly which concluded in Montreal last week, Iran said that both it and the United States are signatories of the Chicago Convention. “The sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the extent they bar the acquisition of parts and support essential for aviation safety, does not conform with both the letter and spirit of the (ICAO) Chicago Convention to which the United States is not only a member, but also is one of its principal architects.”

It added, “Acts of Member States, which are inconsistent with the provisions and goals of the Convention, must not be tolerated or excused. The Iran Sanctions Regulations of the United States, to the extent they adversely affect safety in civil aviation, must be rescinded and the 36th Assembly should act appropriately to affect such rescission (sic).”

“Whatever political differences exist between States that are parties to the Chicago Convention, civil aviation cannot, consistent with their Treaty obligations, be used by member States as an instrument for foreign policy. The sanctions, to the extent that they endanger the safety of civil aviation in Iran and in other States that Iranian airlines serve, undermine the mandate that the Member States have delegated to ICAO to ensure the safety of civil aviation worldwide.”

The working paper notes that a similar effort was made at last year’s Assembly but to date, “no considerable developments made through the good offices of the President of the Council in spite of the attempts that have been made.”

Under the sanctions, manufacturers or other United States firms cannot sell and export aircraft, engines and spare parts, CNS and security equipment, etc., to Iranian air carriers or Iranian companies or government agencies, whether the equipment is new or used. Nor can firms in Europe, the Middle East and other countries worldwide re-sell (re-export) most United States-origin equipment to Iranian air carriers, even if they owned the equipment for years. Firms in the United States cannot sell parts to firms in Europe if they know that those parts will be resold to Iranian air carriers. Firms (including airlines in Europe), which provide maintenance for Iranian air carriers cannot provide such maintenance if it involves the installation or replacement of United States parts.

The working paper notes that ICAO conducted its own independent investigation into Iran’s claim, and issued a report on 9 May 2005, stating that, “in fact, the United States sanctions had endangered the safety of civil aviation in Iran, and it is contrary to the provisions, aims and objectives of the Chicago Convention.”

“The findings of ICAO should be upsetting to anyone, who is committed to the safety of civil aviation and the safety of air transport,” according to the Iranians. “The instance where safety has been put at risk because of the sanctions is well documented by the ICAO report.”

The Iranians noted one of the ICAO report’s clear recommendations that “the United States should recommit to the Chicago Convention and advise ICAO through their Representative in Montréal ICAO Headquarters that they will uphold the terms and conditions of the Convention”.

The working paper notes that under the terms of the Chicago Convention, “ICAO and its Member States are contractually bound to the promotion, advancement and achievement of the highest standards of aviation safety possible.” Hence, it adds, “Acts of Member States, which are inconsistent with the provisions and goals of the Convention, must not be tolerated or excused.”

At the same time, the working paper refers to the terminology of the US’ Iranian sanctions regulations which clearly declare that “these sanctions were (and continue to be) imposed by United States for foreign policy reasons.” It also notes that the “Recommendations of ICAO, while positive and welcome, leave civil aviation safety to the discretion and the whim of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the United States and their misconstruction of the sanctions’ regulations.”

Says the working paper, “The 36th Assembly is expected to take the lead to bring international public pressure on the United States, as a Member State to ICAO, to lift the sanctions as they are applied to aircraft equipment, spare parts, CNS equipment and technical supports. Aviation safety, as it affects human life and human rights, stands above political differences, which is as it should be, and is the bedrock principle of the Chicago Convention carved into Articles 4 and 44.”



<> From a travel media editor, California: Great newsletter this week. I loved it in fact. I told the world years ago that dot travel was a big disaster, especially for the small mom and pop travel shops. Your review on PATA was superb.

<> From the head of a tourism marketing company, Dubai: Excellent article about PATA …….well done. A pity they couldn’t find the time to comment.

<> From a regular PATA mart buyer, United States: It was refreshing to read your incisively analytical story on PATA, although I feel that it was perhaps too generous and not critical enough! Perhaps you should start work on a sequel? BTW, I did not see you at PTM 2007 in Bali – did you choose to stay away or did somebody forget to send you an invitation?

<> From a regular PATA buyer, Germany: Congratulations on your article…spot on….

<> From a second-generation family PATA member in Nepal: Missed seeing you at the recent PATA do in Bali. The Mart was a success but, as you suggest, how it eventually stacks up against ITB Asia is to be seen. This is just a short note to commend you on a hard hitting article about PATA and its doings or in effect its ‘non-doings’. You hit the nail right on the head.

<> From a first-generation family PATA member in Nepal: I received the write up about PATA that you have written sent by (a friend). Good.

<> From a state tourism organisation executive in Australia: Interesting article on the relevance of PATA. I attended the Travel Mart last year in HK and these thoughts were being expressed by many of the people in attendance. Obviously last week was PATA’s busiest week of the year. Perhaps you would like to allow for a right of reply in one of your upcoming editions of the newsletter. Otherwise, good stuff and keep up the good work.

<> From Sir Peter Barter (Chairman, Melanesian Tourist Services Ltd, Member of PATA since 1966) former Minister for Inter Government Relations, Health, Bougainville Affairs. PNG National Government. (rtd 2007): Few people were around when PATA was established in HNL and whilst I was not present, I knew those that founded PATA and later on in 1966 became a PATA Member when Marvin Plake was Director and over the years have watched the association grow and change its direction for better or worse. In the case of the smaller countries in the Pacific, the worst, as the original intention of PATA was to collectively develop and market the smaller South Pacific Island Nations, many at the time were not nations. As PATA grew, it has to a large extent loss sight of its orginal intentions and has become a global institution expanding to Asia in name and geography, sadly at the expense of the smaller nations of the Pacific region. I guess you could justify the expansion to originating tourism markets and that we are all apart of a global industry but at the same time, the smaller nations in the Pacific have to an extent lost their direction and what direction we have is being overridden by our Asian members even to the extent that your office is now located in Asia! In 2008, maybe it is time to look back at the roots and place more emphasis on where we came from?

<> From Prof Neil Leiper, Naresuan University, Bangkok Campus, Thailand: Your recent newsletter (which I’ve read only an extract, sent by a colleague) states that PATA was founded in 1951 to promote tourism into Asia. You, or perhaps your informant, might be attempting to give PATA a larger congenital link in Asia than the true history would reveal.

In the early 1970s when I was just starting into research on travel and tourism, I interviewed a few of the persons who were instrumental in establishing PATA, who attended the foundation meetings. One of the things I recall is that the principal purpose of PATA was to get the Americans who lived on the East Coast and in the Mid West — persons who traditionally had looked south (to Florida and Latin America) and east (to Europe) for vacation destinations — to think instead of California and Hawaii. The Matson Line was a major carrier from the US Pacific Coast to Hawaii and beyond – to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan) and was a major player in the foundation of PATA. The Asian destinations were, I believe, largely an add-on: the dominant aim was to boost tourism into Hawaii and the US west coast.

Promotion of these places in Western Europe was also envisaged, although in 1951 when PATA was formed there was almost no international tourism being generated in Europe, still economically damaged by the war. Within a few years England was generating a trickle of tourism into southern Europe (mainly Spain, on the pioneer air packaged holidays). Perhaps you might correct the item in a future edition. It’s trivial, but has some salience.

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