Economic crisis will not divert us from a commitment to environmental protection, say Europe's major airlines
Dr Ivan Misetic, President & CEO of Croatia Airlines and AEA Chairman for 2009
Fri 5 Jun 2009 – Speaking last week at its Presidents’ Spring Assembly, Dr Ivan Misetic, President and CEO of Croatia Airlines and current Chairman of the Association of European Airlines (AEA), said that even though the “unprecedented” economic downturn was having severe repercussions on the airline industry, the AEA was committed to the key objective of seeking a global solution on environmental protection. Although airlines were supportive of the European Commission’s drive on the debate, he said Europe should not be satisfied with a regional emissions trading scheme.
“The economic downturn is of unprecedented dimensions because all global economies are in deep recession and we do not know when the downturn will bottom out,” said Dr Misetic. “What we do know is that it has severe repercussions on all airline business models. Passenger volumes are in steep decline and the airfreight market has suffered what can only be described as collapse.”
The consensus of AEA airline chiefs was that the downturn would have a profound impact on the market, extending well beyond 2009. “This is not a cyclical feature in an industry which is used to business cycles,” Dr Misetic believed. “It is a structural upheaval, and we must adapt structurally.”
However, he stated, irrespective of traffic levels in the short term, a key objective of the AEA remained a “global solution to the global issue of environmental protection”. He continued: “Other regional associations across the world agree with us that aviation must become part of a post-Kyoto Climate Change programme. Key for the success of such a scheme is to recognize that different markets have differing degrees of maturity. Including them all requires a common but differentiated approach.
“By the time of the December Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen we could see broad support worldwide for a system which could deliver genuine environmental benefits with a minimum of competitive distortion.”
Dr Misetic concluded: “The current crisis can be a catalyst for change. Airlines, which are of paramount importance for European jobs and competitiveness, will only be sustainably competitive if they offer customers choice, remain environmentally sensitive and can be confident that the other elements in their value chain are equally market-driven and focused on the prosperity of the sector as a whole.”
Last December, the AEA, which represents 34 European scheduled network carriers, published a position paper outlining a global approach for international aviation emissions. It proposed that international aviation, under ICAO representation, be included as a sector in any post-Kyoto multilateral agreement on climate change. In order to reconcile the Chicago and Kyoto principles, the AEA proposed countries be grouped into three blocks according to the maturity of their aviation market. This allows for developed countries to have a fixed emissions reduction target with developing countries either having a relative fuel efficiency target or no targets at all. For traffic between two blocks, the lowest of the two targets would apply.