Rome - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted aviation’s commitment to its environmental responsibility at the inauguration of its aviation and environment display at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

“Our commitment to environmental responsibility is firm and strong. Aviation accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions. The industry’s constant commitment to efficiency has kept us a small part of the big problem of climate change. Even as we face the worst revenue situation in 50 years - with US$2.5 billion in losses this year, following a US$5 billion loss in 2008 - we are determined to continue to deliver effective solutions that reduce aviation’s emissions,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA is leading the air transport industry’s efforts to address climate change and improve aviation’s environmental performance with a four-pillar strategy: investing in technology, flying planes effectively, building efficient infrastructure and using positive economic measures. “No other industry is as united in its approach. The IATA vision is to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future,” said Bisignani.

“The strategy is delivering results. Aviation’s emissions will fall 4.5% in 2009. Part of this is due to the expected 2.5% reduction in capacity as a result of the global economic crisis. The rest is directly related to the strategy. Airlines are investing in fuel-efficient aircraft and retiring old ones. The numbers are impressive. In the first 11 months of 2008 1,037 new aircraft - with improved fuel efficiencies of 20-30% - were delivered. These replace 881 inefficient old aircraft which were parked,” Bisignani said.

IATA’s environment leadership is also contributing to reducing fuel burn. ”Working with airlines, airports and air navigation service providers, we have saved 59 million tonnes of CO2 since 2004, equal to US$12.2 billion in fuel costs. In 2008 alone we identified and saved 15 million tonnes of CO2, equal to US$5 billion,” Bisignani added. Since 2001 the air transport industry improved its fuel efficiency by 19%. By 2020 the industry target is to achieve a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to 2005.

Bisignani identified three critical areas that can help the industry deliver even better results:

  • Alternative fuels: “Bio-fuels show the most promise for reducing aviation’s carbon emissions. Over the entire lifecycle they have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 60%. IATA is committed to using 10% alternative fuels by 2017. But we need the right bio-fuels, those that don’t compete with food for land-use or harm bio-diversity, and that meet the current exacting technical specifications of jet kerosene. The recent tests by Air New Zealand and Continental Airlines proved that bio-fuels are viable. Now we need to speed-up the certification process. The current timeline sees certification by 2013. We are challenging governments to deliver even faster - by 2010 or 2011,” said Bisignani.

  • Better air navigation: “We need to fly more effectively. Every Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) saves between 150 to 600kg of CO2. Each Clean Airspeed Departure (CAD) saves between 600 to 5,000 kg of CO2. But we can only take advantage of these efficiencies at less than 50 of Europe’s airports. Hopefully, Rome will come on board with these measures soon. Thinking even bigger, after decades of talks and no action, a Single European Sky (SES) is picking up momentum. We have high hopes that European Commission Vice President Tajani will be supported by Europe’s governments to deliver the SES Second Package so that we can have 9 functional air space blocks, a network manager and tough efficiency targets in place by 2012. This would save a massive 16 million tonnes of CO2,” said Bisignani.

  • A global solution on positive economic measures : ”Governments around the world must agree a global solution to reduce aviation emissions. Europe’s unilateral approach with its plan to include aviation in its regional European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is flawed and illegal. It is against the Chicago Convention. Non-EU governments will challenge this approach and Europe will lose. On top of that, it is hypocritical to charge the airlines for emissions when the infrastructure forces airlines to fly inefficiently. A Single European Sky by 2012 is a must,” said Bisignani. ”A far better way for Europe to show true leadership on environment is to support a global solution brokered through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN body and its 15-government Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC). This is what the Kyoto protocol envisioned. And it is what the G8 agreed in Japan in June 2008. Governments - including those in Europe - must ensure that GIACC’s action plan, to be issued in September, will be challenging and effective.”

IATA’s environmental exhibition displays innovations that airlines and the industry are implementing to improve fuel efficiency. It also looks to future innovations, including bio-fuels and revolutionary concepts for airframe and engine design. It is a reminder of the potential for technical and operational achievements.

Access Bisignani's speech

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Notes for editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic.
  • The IATA environment exhibition is touring European airports and is currently located at Rome Fiumicino for two months with the generous cooperation of Aeroporti di Roma.
  • The stands consist of two curved, opposing panels forming a ‘tunnel’, suggestive of an aircraft engine. The visitor is guided on a remarkable journey from the inception of powered flight to the present day. This journey illustrates the key elements of IATA’s four-pillar strategy on the environment – focussing on technology, operations and infrastructure. Our journey extends to the future, exploring new technologies such as algae-based bio fuels, solar power and fuel cells that could provide the building blocks for developing a carbon emission-free plane in the next 50 years.
  • The stands are 3 metres by 6 metres and are 2.1 metres high. The base language is English along with a second language that is changed for each location. Touch-screens and interactive models explore and explain issues such as alternative fuel sources, revolutionary concepts in airframe and engine design, the shortening of routes and operational improvements in the airline industry. The stand includes “Destination Zero” - essentially, ‘the film of the stand.’