‘Good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ and ‘good evening’ to all Safer Skies Partners and Forum participants around the globe. I would first like to congratulate Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. Organising this first Safer Skies Forum in such a short period of time is an enormous achievement.
We all know that this very welcome Canadian initiative has a very sad origin. The memory of the tragic downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight P-S-7-5-2 on the 8th of January is still fresh. 176 people, many of them from Canada, lost their lives. Loved ones who will never return home. For those left behind, carrying on, after the unreal has become real, is painful and difficult.
Families and friends live with scars that will never heal.
The same is true in the Netherlands. This summer, on the 17th of July, we marked the sixth anniversary of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight M-H-17. 298 people perished, among them 193 Dutch nationals. Six-and-a-half years ago, for many Dutch families, loss became a lifelong reality.
A lot has been achieved since that fateful day. The main thing we’ve accomplished, is that the issue of flying over conflict zones is now high on the international agenda. We’ve helped ICAO accelerate its work programme on conflict zones, the European Union has established a common risk assessment process, and, in the Netherlands, we have set up a system to share threat information with our airlines.
These concerted actions are bearing fruit. States, international aviation organisations and airlines are now sharing more information about the risks. However, it is not enough.
First of all, the measures taken so far need our constant attention, so we can assess if they are still adequate. Secondly, there is still important work ahead of us. It goes without saying that my country endorses the Safer Skies Statement. These annual Forum meetings will allow us to take risk management with regard to flying over conflict zones to the next level. The Netherlands is firmly committed to making a meaningful contribution, through the active engagement of both my Ministry and the Dutch Safety Board.
This is something that concerns all our citizens.
No matter which airline they choose, where they board their flight, or what their destination may be, they must be assured that their flight path is a safe one.