Russia was not included in any of the three groups of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), follows from the results of voting on election to this governing body.
In total, the ICAO Council includes 36 countries, it is re-elected every three years. The Council is divided into three groups: in the first - states that are of paramount importance for world air transport (formerly Russia was there), in the second - significant for ensuring international air navigation. The third group of countries is formed on a geographical basis so that all continents are represented in the council.
Elections for the new composition of the first (key) group were held on 1 October. Russia did not enter there: it was supported by 80 countries, while the required minimum is 86 countries.
At the same time, the decision not to re-elect Russia to the council does not mean that it ceases to be a member state of the International Civil Aviation Organization, an aviation expert explained to The Insider. In general, ICAO has about 200 states.
The executive director of the AviaPort agency, Oleg Panteleev, in a conversation with The Insider, said that the decision, from his point of view, is political in nature. “The fact that Russia was not elected to the council is due not to a real assessment of the contribution that our country makes to the world industry, but to the factor that Canadian Minister of Transport Omar Algabra publicly voiced : “It is important to hold Russia accountable for its actions [in Ukraine], and we will not support her candidacy.” This means that the ICAO ceases to be a politically neutral organization.”
An independent expert on the aviation market, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Insider that the decision is not just a gesture to "punish" Russia for the war unleashed in Ukraine. The Russian authorities, according to him, have not followed the recommendations of the organization in the field of international flights for more than a decade.
So, in September, ICAO gave Russia a “red flag” following the results of a flight safety audit. Only Bhutan and Eritrea received this status. In practice, this means that other states may refuse to use Russian aircraft in their airspace due to the unsafe condition of aircraft from the Russian Federation.
“The level of flight safety in Russia fell below the countries of Africa even according to the results of the world anti-record of the Russian Federation for the largest number of aviation accidents and people killed in them in 2021. In practice, the aviation authorities of Russia have not followed the ICAO recommendations for more than a decade, and, moreover, they have not put forward their own initiatives on new recommendations to improve the level of flight safety in the world. The ICAO tolerated this situation for a long time, but this patience has come to an end. This is another shameful, but well-deserved "achievement" of the permanent head of the Federal Air Transport Agency, Alexander Neradko.
Another independent aviation expert, with whom The Insider spoke, also notes that the ICAO decision can hardly be called “completely political”, there are very real technical reasons for this, related to flight safety. Thus, the “red flag” was set by the ICAO of Russia due to the situation with the double registration of aircraft leased by Russian airlines. This entails problems with the international recognition of the aircraft's radio station license and airworthiness certificate.
“Not to mention the fact that Russia has come under sanctions, it has problems with aircraft, problems with maintenance, repairs, supply of spare parts and so on. Some of the aircraft are dismantled for spare parts for those ships that fly. <...> Russia received a "red flag" in the same way as Bhutan. She now has as much right to run for election to the council as Bhutan does.”
The USSR became a member of the ICAO Council in 1970, from the moment it joined the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation (this is the convention that established the main principles for the operation of international aviation). Since 1991, the Russian Federation has taken a seat on the governing council.