Europe's failure to implement a Single European Sky is an environmental embarrassment, says IATA
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO
Thu 20 Nov 2008 – The failure to implement an effective Single European Sky (SES) is Europe’s biggest environmental embarrassment, IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani told high-level delegates to the European Aviation Summit held in Bordeaux, France earlier this week. He challenged Europe to deliver the SES by 2012 to coincide with aviation’s inclusion into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. He was supported by the Association of European Airlines, who described the present ATM system as a “morass of inefficiency”.
Bisignani said the SES failure had resulted in 21 million minutes of delays and 468 million kilometres of unnecessary flight in 2007 at a cost of €5 billion ($6.3bn), which the airline industry could not afford in the current crisis.
He believed the plan to combine European airspace into nine cross-national functional airspace blocks (FABs) was a minimum requirement in delivering the necessary efficiency improvements promised by the SES. He said the “major flaws” of the ETS, which he described as illegal in its unilateral approach and its regional scope ineffective, left the SES as Europe’s only credible option in delivering performance benefits. “Airlines cannot accept to be charged for emissions in Europe when the inefficiency of the system forces them to waste 16 million tonnes of CO2 each year,” he stated.
A goal of the SES is to reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10% by 2020.
Europe must also contribute to a global solution on economic measures to address climate change, commented Bisignani. “While focusing technical efforts to deliver the SES by 2012, Europe must aim its political efforts on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),” he said. “Article 2 of the Kyoto Protocol gives ICAO the responsibility to find an effective global solution for aviation’s emissions that is global and voluntary for states.
“This summer, the G8 affirmed this role in their Summit Declaration. With 44 European states among ICAO’s 189 contracting members and with three EU states on the 15-member ICAO Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC), Europe has a duty to ensure that ICAO delivers a global result and to harmonize its approach with the global solution.”
In the meantime, he urged European policy makers and legislators not to make “a bad decision worse” by including aviation in the current ETS general review process. “It makes absolutely no sense to review something that has not started yet, let alone even consider raising auctioning levels beyond the current 15%.”
At the Association of European Airlines (AEA) President’s Assembly, the 35 airline members signed what the AEA has named the Hague Declaration, which calls on European national governments and institutions to better recognize the value of the airline industry and includes a demand that there should be no inclusion into the ETS without a SES.
Peter Hartman, AEA Chairman and KLM President and CEO, claimed the present European airspace is a “morass of inefficiency” which translates into wasted fuel, unnecessary emissions, inflated charges and excessive delays. “It is unthinkable that the ETS should penalize airlines for the CO2 they are forced to emit as they fly through Europe’s fragmented airspace,” he said.
The AEA shares IATA’s views that the parameters of the ETS should not be changed before the aviation industry had joined the scheme and insisted the appropriate solution was a global rather than a regional emissions trading scheme. “Only then can we be sure of a level playing field,” said Hartman.
“We are in no doubt that technology can deliver a new era in low-carbon aviation. However, our industry has to be in a state of financial health that allows the necessary investment to take place. In this respect, a punitive ETS will be a counter-productive measure.”