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EU Aviation Maps a Sustainable, Post-Crisis Future in Round Table Report

By  Brussels, — Last updated on 8 December 2023
  • All stakeholders, including policy makers, are to work together to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
  • EU leaders invited to join an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021, covering environmental and social sustainability.
  • The creation of the Aviation Relief Programme would restore consumer confidence, maintain connectivity, skills and employment and recover the economic and social benefits of European aviation and the wider travel and tourism ecosystem.

Brussels, 16 Nov. 2020: Over 20 associationsThis includes airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, aeronautical manufacturing and trade unions, non-governmental organisations for environmental and consumer action, as well as service providers, ground-handling services, the duty free and travel retail sector, airport coordinators, tourism boards, general and business aviation and express carriers, including: Airlines for Europe (A4E); Airline Catering Association (ACA); Airports Council International (ACI EUROPE); AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD); Airport Services Association (ASA); Airport Regions Conference (ARC); CPMR/CRPM; Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO); The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC); The European Travel Agents’and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA); European Cockpit Association (ECA); European Business Aviation Association (EBAA); European Regions Airline Association (ERA); EFFAT; European Express Association (EEA);  European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC); The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the European Travel Commission (ETC); General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); EU Travel Tech; European Airport Coordinators Association (EUCA); IndustriAll European Trade Union; Europa Tourism Global Union collectively representing the entire European aviation ecosystem have announced a joint commitment to work with policy makers to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, part of a comprehensive collaborative analysis released today detailing ways aviation can recover sustainably and more resiliently from the COVID-19 crisis whilst supporting the European Union’s Green Deal objectives. The commitments will help build a greener, socially and economically robust future for aviation.

Calling for a comprehensive Aviation Relief Programme to rebuild the sector, the authors of the Aviation Round Table Report, note the critical importance of restoring the public’s confidence in aviation as a key priority and urgent prerequisite in ensuring recovery. In addition, the report highlights maintaining connectivity, skills and employment and preserving the European internal market and its competitiveness as vital to ensuring aviation’s recovery from COVID-19, improving its governance and making European aviation more resilient to future shocks.

EU leaders are also urged to join and actively support an EU Pact for Sustainable AviationSee page 17 in Round Table report by the end of 2021 by contributing the policy and financial framework required to enable European aviation to deliver on its sustainability commitments. This will ensure that recovery efforts are fully compatible with European citizens’ expectations of cleaner transport, with aviation employees’ needs for a socially sustainable and responsible aviation sector balanced with aviation stakeholders’ desire for a  robust, safe and coordinated recovery from the crisis.

Striving for an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable future, the authors of the report state:

“The European aviation sector believes that its recovery is fully compatible with, and should be accompanied by, broader efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, provided the right policies are in place. Therefore, the sector is committed to continuing its efforts to reduce its negative environmental impacts, both locally and globally. The latter implies in particular for all stakeholders and all policy makers to work together to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from all flights within and departing from the EU by 2050.  The European aviation sector invites European and national policymakers to be strong partners in reaching these objectives, thus collectively contributing to the implementation of the European Green Deal”.

The pandemic is having a profound impact on workers in the aviation sector, with thousands of jobs currently at risk. The design and implementation of the recovery strategy should take the needs of all aviation workers into account. These should be fully reflected in the social dimension of the EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation.

In order to further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and achieve decarbonisation, the Pact calls for, among others:

  • An EU legislative framework to promote the uptake, production and deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs);
  • Funding and investments to enable the acceleration of low-carbon aircraft innovations, such as electric and hydrogen;
  • An incentive scheme for fleet renewal, coupled with retirement;
  • Increased public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation (Clean Aviation and SESAR) through EU recovery mechanisms;
  • The revision of the Single European Sky (SES) and continuation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme/ CORSIA.

European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said:

“The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Since March, we have worked closely with Member States in their efforts to support this industry, which plays an important role in terms of jobs and connectivity. Today’s industry report provides important food for thought. Both for immediate issues and forward-looking challenges. Because environmental sustainability and the role of digitisation is a prerequisites for the modernisation and decarbonisation of the EU aviation system. In this unprecedented situation, we will continue our close cooperation with Member States and the aviation sector, to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules”.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said:

“I welcome today’s report from the aviation sector and civil society on what is needed to rebuild passengers’ trust, and for the recovery of this hard-hit sector, which remains critical for global supply chains and people’s mobility. It offers a vision of how to make the sector stronger, more sustainable and more forward-looking than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud the commitment to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and the proposal to create a pact for social sustainability. This is fully in line with our ambitions for the future growth of the EU”.

Europe’s aviation bodies have come together and committed to ambitious actions to tackle the sector’s climate impact and to strive for a socially sustainable, competitive and more resilient aviation sector. To achieve this, urgent action by EU leaders is required to deliver policies that will enable that action. The sector cannot merely wait for a resumption of business as usual. Supportive policies are required so that aviation can continue to be a primary enabler of the global economy in the future.

Note to editors

• Aviation plays a vital socio-economic role both in Europe and around the world. It allows companies and nations to trade successfully, provides jobs and supports regional and global connectivity by fostering social contact between people, societies and communities across the globe.

• Europe’s aviation sector supports almost 10 million jobs and €672 billion in European Union economic activity, including 4.2% of all EU jobs and 4.2% of the EU’s GDP. Data from the ATAG 2020 Report.

• Aviation is a key economic sector that was impacted first and hit the hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. Its unprecedented and devastating impact necessitates urgent action to stabilise the sector and put it back on its feet (operationally, financially, socially and sustainably).

Airlines for Europe (A4E) is Europe’s largest airline association, based in Brussels. The organisation advocates on behalf of its 16 airline group members to help shape EU aviation policy to the benefit of consumers, ensuring a continued safe and competitive air transport market. Follow us on Twitter @A4Europe.

ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International) is the European region of Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide professional association of airport operators. ACI EUROPE represents over 500 airports in 46 European countries. Our members facilitate over 90% of commercial air traffic in Europe: 2.5 billion passengers, 20.7 million tonnes of freight and 25.7 million aircraft movements in 2019. In response to the Climate Emergency, in June 2019 our members committed to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions for operations under their control by 2050, without offsetting.

ASD is the voice of European Aeronautics, Space, Defence and Security Industries, actively promoting and supporting the competitive development of the sector by advocating common positions towards European Institutions and International organisations. Follow us @ASDEurope.

The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) is the global voice of air traffic management worldwide. CANSO Members support almost 90 percent of world air traffic. Members share information and develop new policies, with the ultimate aim of improving air navigation services on the ground and in the air. CANSO represents its Members’ views in major regulatory and industry forums, including at ICAO, where it has official Observer status. CANSO has an extensive network of Associate Members drawn from across the aviation industry. For more, visit

European Cockpit Association (ECA) is the representative body of European pilot associations, representing over 40.000 pilots from across Europe, striving for the highest levels of aviation safety and fostering social rights and quality employment in Europe.

Founded in 1980, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) is a non-profit trade association representing over 60 airlines and around 150 companies involved in European air transport and is the only association representing the entire spectrum of companies involved in European aviation. The association promotes the interests of European airlines by lobbying European regulatory bodies on policy matters and promoting the social and economic importance of air transport and its environmental commitments.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Central and Eastern Europe. The ETF represents more than 5 million transport workers from more than 200 transport unions and 41 European countries.

Media Contacts of the Drafters of the Report:
ACI EUROPE: Virginia Lee, +32 2 552 09 82
A4E: Jennifer Janzen, +32 499 828294
ASD:  Pierre Laffont, / +32 473 13 11 64
CANSO: Johnny Pring, + 32 493 536124
ECA: Kameliya Encheva, +32 490 411203.
ERA: Paula Bangle +44 (0)1276 485558
ETF: Zala Turšič, +32 478 79 41 12