© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Technicians moved an A380 British Airways plane stored on the Marcel-Dassault runway at Chateauroux after the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), in France, July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
By Tim Hepher
TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) – Airbus led a chorus of pledges by aviation leaders to cut emissions under an eco-friendly new slogan on Wednesday, but was forced to defend its jet-selling business under criticism from campaigners urging the industry to tame its growth.
Last year, the European company announced its plans to create a hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2035. However, it said that aviation would only reach net zero carbon emissions in 2050 if all airports and airlines made radical changes.
Julie Kitcher, Executive Vice President of Airbus Summit was astonished to hear that “Net zero” will only be possible through a “truly unparalleled act of collaboration.” She spoke at the summit attended by policymakers as well as Lufthansa and easyJet (LON. ).
Airbus said that alternatives to fuel, light materials, and an eagerly awaited overhaul of the air traffic systems were needed. The transition may also increase fares, however, the delegates were cautioned.
Airbus tried out a new slogan just days before the German election that would reshape European environmental politics: “The planet is beautiful.”
Rebranding, which replaces “We make It Fly”, could cause a rift with some green groups. However, it reflects an industry shift in priorities. It includes winning the race for iconic machines and overcoming climate concerns.
Airbus provided “key messages” to the speakers at the event held in Toulouse, the headquarters of the planemaker. However, it did provide an opportunity for industry critics.
Transport & Environment, which advocates tighter controls on aviation, accused the industry of chipping away at regulation while appearing to be supportive over environmental goals.
Airbus was challenged by Transport & Environment to cease selling short-haul aircraft in Europe starting 2035. This is the date when it claims it will be able to offer the hydrogen-powered model for around 100 passengers.
Andrew Murphy, Aviation Director, stated that if we cannot mandate the solution we should at the very least start phasing it out.
Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive of Airbus, said that selling new planes was the most efficient way to reduce emissions. He did not rule out hydrogen-powered smaller aircraft.
He stated that “we don’t have to stop selling planes, but we do need to speed up the replacement of older planes…given the rate at which fuel burn is reduced.”
Airbus claims that 10% of aircraft in operation use the most advanced technology today.
Industry executives at the two-day, in-person and webcast event agreed on the need for sweeping public and private investment and a “level global playing field” in the race to reduce carbon emissions, for which jetliners account for 2-3%.
According to observers, the event created rare unity in an industry trying to get rid of the carbon label and met resistance from some policymakers as well as activists.
However, there were cracks in the industry over whether to quickly adopt bio-based low-emission fuels. These are three times more expensive than kerosene.
Johan Lundgren is the EasyJet chief executive. They are locked in an argument with legacy carriers about who should take on more Sustainable Aviation Fuel. (SAF). However, it was dismissed as a viable long-term solution.
The chief executive at London’s Heathrow insisted that airlines use the fuel to increase long-haul flight options for many decades.
We won’t be able to run a business if we fail to get net zero before 2050. John Holland-Kaye stated that the quicker we increase SAF, the more we can decarbonise aircraft.
Some of the financial giants with tens to billions in their pockets are watching the crowd. Their success in aviation’s ability overcome environmental pressures and address technical problems is what they have been betting on.
Airbus has a genuine authenticity to some of this information, although it might not be public. Peter Barrett is chief executive officer of SMBC Aviation Capital.
It can’t just be one solution. Airbus, Boeing (NYSE 🙂 and the engine manufacturers should all be involved in this effort. This is a huge collective problem as well as the COVID vaccine.