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CAPA’s World Aviation Summit – sustainable aviation fuel and aviation’s net zero ambitions

Analysis

Sustainability took on heightened importance during the pandemic, both at the corporate and consumer level.

This focus only continues to sharpen: surveys show better than 90% of individuals and companies report sustainability plays an influence when it comes to their travel behaviours.

Airlines already have grand commitments towards a carbon-neutral future in place, with ambitions for net zero by 2050.

Yet, the industry remains wedded to fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, and it continues to battle negative press and overzealous and misguided regulation seeking to limit emissions.

Summary:

  • Consumer attitudes around sustainability shift, and air travel is shifting with them.
  • Consumers are seeking more and better information when making travel decisions.
  • Watch EXCLUSIVE VIDEO coverage from panel discussions at CAPA's World Aviation Summit.
  • The 2023 edition of the CAPA World Aviation Summit & Awards for Excellence took place in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The 2024 edition, under a new name, CAPA Airline Leader Summit World & Awards for Excellence, is to be held on 21-22 November 2024 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Consumer attitudes around sustainability shift, and air travel is shifting with them

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in what may amount to a generational shift in attitudes around the environment and awareness around sustainability.

When it comes to travel, more than half of consumers report that they are now more mindful of the environmental impacts of their choices than they were before the pandemic.

Around 90% of companies report the relative importance of sustainability to their business has increased since the start of the pandemic, and a similar number report that this is influencing their behaviour when it comes to decisions around corporate travel and budgets.

The pandemic was seen by some as a unique opportunity to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. With the unprecedented break in global travel and tourism patterns, and new awareness from consumers and businesses on lowering their environmental impacts, it was argued that consumption of air travel may undergo a permanent shift.

It appeared for a time that consumers, businesses, and governments might be willing to entertain a shift toward less energy intensive modes, such as rail (particularly for short distance travel). However, as the world adjusted to the pandemic and global airline capacity returned, so too did the global appetite for travel.

While COVID-19 did not produce the reduction in global air travel that airlines feared and environmentalist sought after, the pandemic has produced lasting substantial impacts on the sustainability side.

Awareness around the environmental impacts of travel remains heightened.

Consumers are seeking more and better information when making travel decisions

Consumers are placing greater value on environmental sustainability when selecting their air travel options. When it comes to the balancing act between cost, time, convenience, comfort, and emissions, air travellers are increasingly prepared to make some sacrifices.

Travel that is perceived as green or environmentally friendly is now more able to command a price premium, and people are also more willing to reduce distance travelled or to spend more time in the travel process to reduce environmental impacts.

In exchange for this, though, travellers – whether travelling for business or leisure – are seeking more and better information when making their travel decisions. In considering their options for travel, consumers and businesses are increasingly demanding information on carbon footprints, emissions offsetting, alternative travel options, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use, and other avenues to lower their impact.

For their part, airlines have doubled down on SAF as the main vehicle to deliver on their environmental commitments. Alternative fuels are expected to account for anywhere from a third to two thirds of all commercial aviation emissions reductions out to 2050. Airline purchasing commitments for SAF increased twentyfold in 2021 and more than doubled again in 2022.

Insights from CAPA’s World Aviation Summit

This was the topic of a panel discussion at the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Abu Dhabi at the end of Nov-2023.

 

The session was moderated by CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Head of Analysis, Rich Maslen and included insightful observations from Airbus, SVP Head Marketing Commercial & International, Stan Shparberg; Keyvan Aviation, CEO & Chairman, Mehmet Keyvan; TUI Group, Chief Airline Officer, Marco Ciomperlik; and ATAG, Executive Director, Haldane Dodd.

Some of the topic areas covered included:

  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is widely seen as the best near-term solution to reducing aviation emissions, but progress remains slow. How does the aviation ecosystem come together to ensure the increased uptake of SAF?
  • Short-haul flying bans, emissions pricing schemes, SAF mandates and green taxes. How does the industry work with regulators to achieve its sustainability goals in a method that is cooperative, rather than punitive?
  • How does aviation address the say-do gap when it comes to passengers talking the sustainable talk, but failing to walk the walk?

You can view the full session via the following CAPA TV recording.

About the CAPA World Aviation Summit

The 2023 edition of the CAPA World Aviation Summit & Awards for Excellence took place in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. The event, held on 28-29 November, and hosted by the Etihad Aviation Group, brought together thought leaders from aviation and the wider travel industry, including airline and airport executives, key suppliers, technology partners and regulators.

The focus for the summit was the biggest trends which aviation faced in 2023, with global airline leaders sharing their insights and perspectives on the changes brought about in the aviation sector over the past year.

The topics ranged from rising costs, environmental sustainability, operational issues, international recovery, digital transformation, supply chains and more, and also provided some guidance on the future trajectory of air travel in 2024.

This year’s event to be hosted in Belgrade, Serbia

With the air travel industry having undergone an immense shift over the past few years, it is more important than ever to understand the strategic and competitive landscape across the industry.

The 2024 edition, under a new name, CAPA Airline Leader Summit World & Awards for Excellence, is to be held on 21-22 November 2024 in Belgrade, Serbia. Hosted by the City of Belgrade and Air Serbia, the event will tap global aviation leaders for an exciting examination of the direction the aviation industry is taking.

It will provide unique global perspective, unpacking the changes that are shaping the way airlines, airports and sector suppliers are doing business.

We're excited to announce that the third edition of the CAPA-Envest Global Airline Sustainability Benchmarking & Rating Report is now available. View and purchase the full report now for just USD 995. Visit   https://centreforaviation.com/shop/capa-envest-airline-sustainability-benchmarking-report-2023

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