Remarks of Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA, at the International Transport Forum


Leipzig – Fifty ministers of transport from countries around the world are gathering in Leipzig for the International Transport Forum Summit, the theme of which is ‘green and inclusive transport’. At the ministerial opening session today, Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association delivered a message on behalf of the global aviation industry:

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Ministers, Secretary General, Directors General and colleagues from across the transport world.

It is my honour to address you here today at the International Transport Forum and I would like to thank Jose Viegas and his team at the ITF for inviting me to speak right at the start of this meeting. We all recognise that 2016 is particularly important for aviation and the theme of this year’s ITF Summit – green and inclusive transport – provides a valuable subject for the few minutes I have with you this afternoon.

Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge my colleague Angela Gittens, Director General of Airports Council International. Together, our organisations work with others in the industry as members of the Air Transport Action Group, a cross-sectoral champion of sustainable development in aviation and a key platform for collaborative action. It is on behalf of the entire aviation industry that I speak to you today and I am delighted to do so.

Climate change is one of the key challenges of our time. Whilst the Paris Agreement was a milestone moment for dealing with the issue, it did not include the two international modes of transport: international aviation and shipping. Delegates understood that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had made significant progress on dealing with aviation emissions. This year, that work comes to fruition and I am here to appeal for your governments’ help to deliver a global agreement on aviation and climate change at the ICAO Assembly in September.

Modern air transport is already incredibly efficient. We have been working to make it so for decades. And that effort will continue into the future. But let’s reflect for a moment on progress to date. On average, a flight you take today will produce around half the carbon dioxide that the same flight would have produced in 1990. This has been achieved through making use of all available efficiency options: introducing new technology aircraft; improved operations of existing aircraft; and new developments in infrastructure through air traffic management and more capacity at airports.

As an industry, we came together in 2009 to launch the first climate goals for any global transport sector. We are already meeting our short-term efficiency goal. We have a long-term stretch target to halve aviation CO2 emissions by 2050 and recent developments in sustainable alternative fuels will help significantly towards that objective.

But we need your help this year with our mid-term goal to cap net aviation CO2 emissions from 2020. The industry is looking to governments to support the ICAO work on developing a global offsetting scheme for international aviation. With this scheme, the sector will be able to meet the goals we have set and, more importantly, to play our full role in global climate action.

Some of your colleagues in governments across the world are a little apprehensive about the development of a market mechanism. There is an understandable concern that it may cause air traffic growth to be impacted. Let me try to put your minds at rest on this issue.

Aviation provides a vital engine of the global economy. We fly a third of world trade by value. We transport over half of international tourists. We support nearly 63 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in global GDP. More important than that, we are a connector of nations, families and business. We are a direct link between the rapidly developing economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the more established European and North American markets. We fully understand the incredible function we perform in modern life, not to mention our ability to provide connectivity to many more people in the future.

It is with this in mind that we fully support the work taking place at ICAO. A well-designed global offsetting scheme will help us to balance our climate responsibilities with a pragmatic, simple and cost-effective international solution. It can help minimise market distortion, whilst taking into account the special circumstances of different economies around the world. It can provide much needed funding for climate protection around the world. And it will be a proactive, forward-thinking mechanism that avoids an ever-increasing patchwork of conflicting measures which could have a very negative impact on connectivity.

As a sector, we take pride in our ability to collaborate. It is one of the ways in which we have grown such an enviable record in safety. On this issue too, we collaborate. Day-in, day-out at airports and airlines, air navigation service providers, makers of aircraft and engines and throughout the supply chain, our experts are working to make air travel even more efficient.

In Montreal this September, we would like to collaborate with your governments as well, to help support a global offsetting scheme for air transport and to provide a clear path for our sector’s climate future.

Thank you for allowing me to address you and I wish you all the best for rest of the Summit.