The international airline industry has called on governments to work together in making aviation a more environmentally friendly industry by setting a target of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent per year starting this year.
The target can be reached if airlines switch to compressed natural gas (CNG) by 2020 and halve CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2050.
Paul Steele, who is director of aviation environment at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told a press briefing Tuesday that the industry was united behind the target, but it still needed governments’ support to make it work.
“Between 2004 and 2009, our CO2 savings reached 71.4 million tons. Some 36.4 million tons came from operations, 35 million tons were from infrastructure,” he said.
“We also tested a direct route between Frankfurt and Hong Kong on a Boeing B772 and the CO2 savings reached 12,272 kilograms and time saved was 31 minutes.”
IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said earlier that the airlines industry in the short term must cut up to 18 percent of wasted aviation fuel due to inefficient infrastructure and operations, or equal to 120 million tons of CO2 emissions per year.
In the long term, he added, technology must help make zero carbon emissions aircraft possible in the next 50 years.
Steele said that the airlines industry could contribute in reaching the targeted carbon emissions cuts by using biofuels and implementing environmentally friendly technology.
He added that the industry would need 12,000 new aircraft deliveries by 2020 worth US$1.3 trillion for “normal replacement” and forecast growth.
Bisignani emphasized the need for government involvement as they could improve infrastructure, invest in technology and provide financial incentives to drive development especially since currently 2.2 billion people fly every year.
Steele pointed out that last December the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen failed to mention aviation in its accord.
The government, he said, could help by investing in improvements to aviation training management, increasing research and development funding in technology and promoting the use of aviation biofuels.
These problems, according to Steele, could be handled if industry and governments — grouped in the International Civil Aviation Organization — built bridges among them to address the above targets combined with Bisignani’s Vision 2050 four-pillar strategy of a global network to assure a sound sustainable future for aviation.
Bisignani’s Vision 2050 covers strategies for profitability, infrastructure, a new energy source and customers.