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A4E CEOs lay out priorities in first meeting with EU Transport Commissioner ahead of Green Deal strategy publication

Climate solutions

In their first meeting with new EU Transport Commissioner Adina-Iona Vălean, A4E CEOs - joined by their newest member, TUI - laid out their most pressing priorities for the new Commission mandate.

These priorities include:

  • Close collaboration with industry on climate change goals;
  • Incentives and investments for sustainability investments instead of new taxes on aviation;
  • Urgent reform of Europe’s outdated air traffic management system and completion of the Single European Sky initiative, which would reduce Europe’s carbon emissions by 10 per cent.
  • Urgent revision of Regulation 261 on Air Passenger Rights.

In order to best contribute to the European Commission’s upcoming Green Deal strategy, A4E and other airlines have joined forces with Europe’s airports, manufacturers and air navigation service providers in the development of a cross-sector climate initiative. Run as an independent study, this sustainable aviation roadmap for Europe will identify opportunities for even greater industry decarbonisation, whether through technology, operations, sustainable aviation fuels or price incentives by 2030 and/or by 2050.

“The new European Commission has begun its work at a time of enormous challenges, but also tremendous opportunities for both the EU and its aviation industry. A4E airlines stand behind Europe’s ambition to move towards a zero or low-carbon economy. Europe’s airlines take these goals very seriously and we are investing billions to more than contribute our share. We also know that this is an industry challenge which requires an industry solution, and we believe our sustainability roadmap will show us where we can do even more”, said Michael O’Leary, A4E Chairman.

Europe’s airlines have already reduced their fuel consumption per passenger kilometer by 24% over the last 30 years by flying more fuel-efficient aircraft, and by making their overall operations more efficient. A4E airlines are currently investing €170 billion through 2030 to operate the most fuel-efficient, next generation aircraft.

The right combination of policies, incentives and investments at both the European and national levels will ultimately best support the aviation industry’s decarbonization efforts. Sustainable aviation fuels, for example, have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%.

“It is critical that industry works in close partnership with the EU institutions if we are to be successful in fulfilling Europe’s climate ambitions -- whether it be on a dedicated policy for increased sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production at an economically affordable price, or by implementing the Single European Sky, which would save 10% in CO2 emissions. Aviation taxes do nothing for the environment. On the contrary, they limit airlines’ ability to invest in new aircraft, innovation and sustainable fuels”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe (A4E).

Since 2012, European airlines have been paying for their carbon emissions through the EU carbon trading scheme. From 2021, they will also be part of the UN global offsetting mechanism named CORSIA, which will reduce aviation emissions by 2.5 billion tonnes between 2020 and 2035 through €36 billion ($40 billion) investment in carbon reduction projects1.

“We are also very proud to welcome TUI -- the world’s largest tourism group, into the A4E family at this crucial time for our industry. TUI will strengthen A4E’s joint advocacy efforts in a number of key areas – including sustainability, where they will serve as a vital, in-house link between airline and sustainable tourism policy goals”, O’Leary added.
“We are looking forward to working with A4E on the very important policy issues that all airlines and tourism partners in Europe face. At TUI we have thousands of employees working in holiday destinations across Southern Europe and around the world and see each day the positive impact that the travel industry has on jobs and growth in these tourism-dependent regions. Together, we need to do our utmost to support healthy, sustainable and environmentally responsible growth for our industry which connects so many people and cultures. This should be supported by European policy makers so that rather than inventing new or additional taxes we allow this money to be invested in innovative and sustainable technologies”, said Kenton Jarvis, CEO TUI Aviation.