Issues surrounding the grounding of the 737 MAX and the environment highlighted the Airline CEO Insight Debate here.

Panel participants on agreed that “a Balkanization” of the international regulatory structure based on mutual recognition and reciprocity would be very bad news. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said he was very concerned: “This is a global industry that needs global trust.” 

JetBlue Airways President and CEO Robin Hayes noted that the huge advances in aviation safety happened “because of a deliberate strategy” of airlines, OEMs and regulators all working together. 

Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines observed that in the case of SIA, the airline’s network is entirely international, so that it would need regulators from more than one nation to approve the aircraft before it can return to service. 

But Flybe CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener cautioned that it will be difficult to restore trust with the traveling public.

Turning to the environment, moderator Richard Quest of CNN said that the industry is doing “a pretty awful job” of communicating its environmental record. “You are losing in the court of public opinion on the environment,” he warned, to which panelists generally agreed.

There was consensus that offering the flying public the opportunity to offset their carbon credits on airline websites was not well-understood and take-up was quite low. 

JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes suggested that “relying on offsets is not sufficient….We have to convince people we are serious about reducing carbon.”

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