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Air New Zealand studying how to add low-emissions planes to fleet By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Travellers pass under the Air New Zealand signs at Auckland Airport, New Zealand on September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Nigel Marple/File Photo

By Jamie Freed

(Reuters) – Air New Zealand Ltd said on Thursday it was studying how it could use low-carbon technologies like electric, hybrid or hydrogen powered planes to dramatically reduce emissions from shorter and regional flights as soon as 2030.

Air New Zealand Ltd signed a memorandum with Airbus SE to investigate the potential impact of hydrogen-powered planes on their network, operations and infrastructure.

Airbus claimed it plans to launch a hydrogen aircraft on the market by 2035. This goal is seen as ambitious, according to analysts and industry professionals.

Greg Foran (Air New Zealand chief executive) said, “Seeing low carbon solutions in place to our short domestic and region flights in the coming decade is now a step closer.”

Airbus and easyJet have already made similar hydrogen studies with Europe’s SAS (LON;) as other airlines strive to reach ambitious emission targets that are in line with their government-recorded commitments.

Around 2.5% of the world’s carbon emissions are caused by aviation.

European manufacturers said that the deal with Air New Zealand would enable them to get feedback from airlines about their preferences, configuration, and performance in zero-emissions aircraft.

A spokesperson for Airbus said that they are currently in discussions with other airlines to conduct similar studies.

Air New Zealand has just launched a new environmental technology initiative. It partnered in 2018 with ATR turboprop manufacturer, which is part of Airbus. The goal was to develop hybrid-electric regional airplanes.

Airbus last year unveiled three visual concepts for hyrdogen-powered planes and set itself a deadline of 2035 to put a carbon-free commercial aircraft in service, a target engine makers like Safran (PA:) have described as ambitious.

European planemaker Airbus says that radical technology is necessary to assist the industry in meeting climate goals. However, U.S. competitor Boeing (NYSE:) Co believes it is safer to be cautious and say that sustainable liquid fuels are the most important to the efforts to decarbonise aviation because they have the infrastructure to support them.

Airbus told European Union officials in June that the majority of airliners would continue to use traditional engines through 2050. Zero-emission hydrogen aircraft will be primarily used for regional and short-range flights starting 2035.

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