Tue 14 Oct 2008 – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has opened an environment exhibition stand in one of the main passenger departure lounges at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as part of an industry commitment to better communicate aviation’s environmental activities to the public. It is a joint initiative with the airport’s operator, Schiphol Group, as well as Dutch airline KLM and BARIN, which represents airlines operating in the Netherlands.
The exhibit will be on display for two months and an IATA spokesman says the association is in negotiations to take it to other airports in Europe, particularly the UK.
The display is intended to provide the travelling public with information on what IATA describes as current innovations airlines are implementing to improve fuel efficiency and future technology advances such as biofuels and revolutionary concepts for airframe and engine design, solar power and fuel cells.
It comprises two curved opposing panels forming a tunnel effect suggestive of an aircraft engine. The information is in English alongside a second language to reflect the exhibit’s location, and there are touch-screens and interactive models for the public to try out.
Speaking at the inauguration of the exhibit, IATA’s Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani said: “Environment remains a top priority, even in the middle of the current crisis hitting the air transport industry. Saving fuel improves environmental performance. And, in this crisis, every drop of fuel saved helps the bottom line.”
Bisignani used the occasion to set out IATA’s four-pillar environmental strategy, which he described as encompassing more investment in new technology, to fly planes more effectively, to build and use efficient infrastructure and the implementation of positive economic measures.
He called on Europe’s governments to do more to help the aviation industry reduce its carbon emissions. “Governments think green and see cash,” he said. “So we get tax after tax, conceived in the name of the environment, which rob the industry of the cash to invest in technology. And there is no guarantee that any of the funds collected will be invested in environment-related projects. Examples include the Dutch departure tax and Europe’s plan to bring aviation into its regional emissions trading scheme that will distort markets and create an international mess.”
Huib Gorter, Chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands (BARIN) took the opportunity to complain of the effects of what he described as the Dutch “illegal taxation levy” – introduced on July 1 – was having on his airline members. He said passenger numbers at Schiphol had fallen by 319,000 for the months of July, August and September, whereas airports just over the Dutch border had seen their passenger departure traffic “double or even triple”.
BARIN lost a court case earlier in the year to have the tax rescinded but is in the process of an appeal to the Dutch High Court.
Meanwhile, a Dutch government official has said the Netherlands will oppose a proposal put forward last week by the environment committee of the European Parliament to earmark EU ETS revenues raised from the auctioning of allowances for environmental and climate change measures (see story).
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