European Airlines Advocate for Policy Overhaul to Secure Sustainable Aviation Future

17 prominent European airline groups convened at the Airlines for Europe (A4E) Summit, issuing a collective call to action for policymakers to commit to the essential advancements needed to sustain the ongoing transformation towards a more sustainable aviation industry. The assembly highlighted the critical nature of maintaining the global competitiveness of European carriers, underscoring their role in fostering economic development, connectivity, trade, and employment within Europe.

A crucial element of the discourse at the summit was the appeal for policy reforms aligned with the upcoming EU mandate aimed at facilitating the transition to greener and more efficient modes of flight. The airline executives underscored the perceived impediments of current bureaucratic constraints and the necessity for substantial legislative changes to mitigate these challenges.

The airlines, accounting for over 80% of European air traffic, have chosen this election year to urge the EU and Member State Transport Ministers to endorse reforms in airspace that would culminate in more streamlined flying. This comes after the recent compromise on the Single European Sky initiative, which, whilst welcomed by many, was deemed insufficient in addressing delays and carbon emissions.

In parallel, A4E members have pledged their commitment to a vision of ‘Flying for Our Future,’ aspiring to cultivate an aviation sector that is connected, dependable, modern, sustainable, and accessible. Ourania Georgoutsakou, Managing Director for Airlines for Europe, expressed the intrinsic value of the EU’s interconnectedness and the imperative to safeguard the benefits it yields, stating, “The next few years provide a real opportunity for change and today we are setting out how we want to future-proof flying and have also unveiled our commitment to Europeans.”

Central to A4E’s advocacy is the notion of competitive decarbonisation. Airlines are investing substantially in innovative technologies, including new aircraft and engines, as well as Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). They seek governmental endorsement for SAFs and zero-emission aircraft technologies through intelligent industrial policies and targeted funding.

With the global market exerting significant pressure, particularly from non-European entities, the trade group says support for domestic production of SAFs is paramount to ensuring Europe’s leadership in the aviation sector’s journey towards decarbonisation

Speaking on the topic, Lufthansa CEO, Carsten Spohr, said “we need global solutions. I know there are local solutions like in the U.S. where SAF production is highly incentivised. We need similar solutions here in Europe to make sure we maintain a level playing field one way or another. We’re at huge risk of falling behind here in Europe. Let’s hope the next Commission will have more focus on European competitiveness.”

Image: Airlines for Europe (A4E)

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