Mega-Trend 1: Decarbonisation

The only good news for airlines in reducing emissions through the pandemic is they are helping save the planet. Aviation emissions are an explosive issue for the airline industry and the mountain to climb has become even taller than it was before COVID.

So far, the airlines’ responses are a dog’s breakfast; they are uncoordinated, contradictory, often evasive greenwashing, completely lacking in transparency - and they leave the industry a sitting target for unwelcome attacks.

Looking ahead to 2030, there is very little in practical terms the industry can do to reduce overall emissions, whether carbon or others. Even with the most optimistic outlook, the use of fossil fuels cannot be reduced significantly until the next decade – assuming the industry continues to grow.

Meanwhile there will have to be extensive reliance on offsets and – to a much lesser extent - the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, SAFs.

Offsets are costly and controversial; SAFs, if they can be truly green, will be costly, three or four times more than fossil fuel.

More positively, replacing older aircraft by buying newer more efficient equipment will have the largest impact.

In short, everything environment-related is about added costs, hardly a welcome prospect at such a fragile time. And there is no way to avoid them.

Moderator: Air Transport World, Editor in Chief, Karen Walker

  • Aviation Environment Federation, Policy Director, Cait Hewitt
  • IAG, Group Head of Sustainability, Jonathon Counsell
  • IATA, Director Fuel, Alexander Küper
  • Pittsburgh International Airport, CEO, Christina Cassotis
  • Skyscanner, Chief Product Officer, Piero Sierra

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