Europe’s aviation sector is facing a dual crisis. Passenger traffic has collapsed to levels not seen since the early ‘70s, affecting tens of thousands of jobs and livelihoods. In parallel, the threat of climate change and the need to speed up aviation’s decarbonization efforts has never been more urgent – both for our planet and for aviation’s future.
It is clear that this will be the defining issue for our generation – long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. Thankfully, it is one EU aviation has prepared for, whether through investments in fleet modernization, sustainable aviation fuel production, digital technologies or a more efficient air traffic management system.
But in order to meet the European Union’s ambitious climate change goals — and help aviation achieve its commitment to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 — action is also urgently needed on the part of policy makers across Europe.
Today, the European Commission unveiled its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which A4E welcomed together with Europe’s aircraft manufacturers, regional airlines, airports and air navigation service providers. What needs to happen next is a joint set of actions and clear goals between industry, the EU Institutions and national policymakers. We must ensure that industry’s own sustainability plans are aligned with, and complementary towards future regulatory proposals. Our EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation was borne from the industry’s recent Round Table Report and represents the cornerstone of our commitment to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
For our part, in January we will unveil our Destination 2050 industry roadmap, offering concrete pathways towards decarbonisation. Stay tuned as we turn the corner on 2020 and chart a new course towards a more sustainable future for European aviation. It will be up to policymakers to help us arrive at our destination on time. And airlines – we like to be punctual.
In the meantime, air transport must be included in future COVID-19 recovery plans, with smart legislation and targeted financial support. This is where the policies set by the Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy have a crucial role to play. The economic sustainability of aviation is a prerequisite for the economic recovery of Europe in the aftermath of COVID-19. A strengthening of our sector’s financial standing today will ensure our long-term resilience tomorrow. This is a precondition for the success of our digital and sustainable transformation.
The pandemic has clearly shown the value of air transport as a key enabler of European links — both economic and social. The dual challenges our sector is facing requires a holistic policy approach. We hope that we can count on the EU Institutions and national governments to work closely with us next year and take action on all fronts – together we can ensure not only an on-time arrival in 2050, but a smooth landing in the process.