20 Airlines Vow to Use New Tech to Minimise Climate Impact

2021-11-11, 12:49pm Conventional

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Cop26 - Aircraft on runway. Ghana. The World Bank - Arne Hoel

Airlines from across the sector pledge their support for novel forms of propulsion such as electric and hydrogen powered planes

Industry leaders aim for 30% of the aircraft serving shorter range routes added to their fleets from 2030 to be powered by new technologies such as hydrogen and electric power

Signatory airlines call for governments to support electric and hydrogen aircraft, that can eliminate in-flight CO2 emissions and reduce the industry’s climate impacts

Read the Full Statement 

Geneva, Switzerland, 10 November 2021 – Today, 20 airline members of the World Economic Forum’s Target True Zero initiative committed to utilizing new technologies, such as electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft, to address the challenge of climate change. The development and delivery of novel propulsion technologies – powered by sustainable energy sources – were highlighted as key towards helping the aviation industry minimize its environmental impact.

“The adoption of these technologies into the global fleet – through either new aircraft design or the retrofitting of conventional aircraft – can help reduce the climate impact of our operations while preserving the immense economic and social benefits that aviation brings to the world”, said the statement.

The signatory airlines – Aero, Air New Zealand, Air Nostrum, Alaska Airlines, Amelia, ASL Aviation Holdings, Braathens Regional Airlines, easyJet, Finistair, Icelandair, Iskwew Air, Loganair, Mokulele, Ravn Alaska, SoundsAir, Southern Airways Express, Surf Air Mobility, Viva Aerobus, Waltzing Matilda Aviation, Xwing - operate over 800 aircraft and carry over 177 million passengers on 1.8 million flights a year and hope to use this influence to create market demand for new types of aircraft.

Key commitments:

Short-haul flights first –  Shorter range flights were recognized as most likely to employ novel propulsion first. The signatories committed to working towards 30% of aircraft, that serve routes of 750km or less, that are added to their fleets from 2030 onwards employ novel propulsion technologies.

Scaling the technology in the future – The airlines also committed to decarbonizing longer range aircraft, once this becomes technologically and economically viable.

Partnership – The signatories called on aerospace manufactures to prioritize innovation that will allow them to meet these goals.

Public-private cooperation – The Target True-Zero airlines also urged governments to do their part in supporting the transition to cleaner aviation. Key calls included establishing policies to provide incentives for operators to adopt these technologies and addressing the infrastructure issues needed to support their use in airports across the world.

“The Target True Zero initiative will address the role novel propulsion technologies like electric and hydrogen aviation can play in the transition to an aviation system with true zero climate impacts. It will address issues in the areas of technology, industry dynamics, infrastructure and supply chain, regulation, and public acceptance, " said Timothy Reuter, Head of Aerospace and Drones, of the World Economic Forum. “By accelerating the adoption of solutions with fewer climate impacts, we can ensure equitable growth around the globe while ensuring a healthy planet for future generations. 

Quotes from Airlines

Uma Subramanian, Chief Executive Officer, Aero said “At Aero, we are deeply committed to charting our industry’s path to zero emissions and minimizing its environmental impact. We are proud to work with the World Economic Forum and industry leaders to accelerate change in the aviation sector and tackle the most pressing issue of our generation.”

David Morgan, Chief Operational Integrity & Safety Officer, Air New Zealand said “Air New Zealand has an aspiration to put low carbon solutions in place for our shorter domestic and regional flights in the next decade. (…) We know that the journey to decarbonising the aviation industry is not something that one airline can tackle alone. Initiatives like True Target Zero are vitally important to share information, learnings and accelerate the adoption of zero-emission aircraft around the globe. Air New Zealand is thrilled to be on board with other industry leaders and we look forward to working towards our net-zero goals together.”

Maria Fiskerud, Chief Sustainability Officer, Braathens Regional Airlines said “Progressing the development towards zero-carbon aviation is crucial to reach the Paris-agreement. (…) Our ambition is to fly all our flights fossil-free in 2030, with SAF in our propeller plane in addition to our electric airplanes. This partnership with True Zero Aviation is a stepping-stone to accelerate towards true zero emissions.”

Charles Cabillic, President, Finistair said “We would like to greet the initiative engaged by the World Economic Forum that is demonstrating its capacity to gather leading stakeholders from the aviation sector around the Target True Zero coalition which we join with determination. We are convinced that by working together, we will be stronger, and we will be able to deploy disruptive technologies that will allow the sector to accelerate its environmental transition. We are certain that this transition will be done firstly on short-haul flights with light aircraft.”

Teara Fraser, Lead Executive, Iskwew Air said “Together let’s reimagine, rematriate, and rebuild the aviation sector centering on equity and sustainability.”

Stan Little, Chairman & CEO, Mokulele Airlines and Southern Airways said “As the largest intra-state carrier in America's "greenest" state, Mokulele Airlines has been working for many years as a pioneer in bringing electrification to Hawaii's air transportation system. We're proud to join the World Economic Forum in seeking a global public commitment to promoting sustainable air travel.”

Sudhin Shahani, Chairman and CEO, Surf Air Mobility said "The entire industry is making important improvements toward decoupling aviation's operations from carbon-emitting fuels. But with full electric, zero-emission aircraft still a few decades away, we also need solutions now. With half of all flights less than 500 miles, fortunately, hybrid solutions will allow us to bring meaningful carbon reductions to market within a couple years and on aircraft we're already flying today."

About the Target True Zero Initiative

The World Economic Forum recently launched the Target True Zero Initiative in July 2021. The Initiative aims to develop understanding about how novel propulsion technology can help address aviation’s climate impacts and how the deployment and scaling of these technologies can be accelerated.

20 member airlines from across the aviation sector joined the 10 November statement, from global market leaders to local commuter airlines, along with knowledge partners McKinsey and Company, the Aviation Impact Accelerator at the University of Cambridge and the Aviation Environment Federation; and with generous support from the Quadrature Climate Foundation and Breakthrough Energy. – World Economic Forum