Amsterdam - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reiterated its commitment to its environmental programme at the inauguration of an aviation and environment display at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

“Environment remains a top priority, even in the middle of the current crisis hitting the air transport industry” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Interests are aligned. Saving fuel improves environmental performance. And, in this crisis, every drop of fuel saved helps the bottom line,” said Bisignani.

IATA is leading the air transport industry’s efforts to address climate change and improve aviation’s environmental performance with a four pillar strategy: invest in new technology, fly planes effectively, build and use efficient infrastructure and implement positive economic measures.

“Our vision is to achieve carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future. More importantly we are delivering results towards this vision. Shortening routes, sharing best practices in fuel management and improving air navigation contributed to enormous CO2 savings. Between 2004 and 2007 IATA saved 44.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, equal to US$7.7 billion in fuel costs. Already this year we identified and saved a further 13.5 million tonnes of CO2 equal to US$4.6 billion.”

The exhibition looks at innovations that airlines are implementing to improve fuel efficiency. It also looks to future innovations, including biofuels and revolutionary concepts for airframe and engine design.

Bisignani noted that while the industry is delivering significant improvements to address its 2% contribution to global CO2 emissions, governments could do much more to facilitate even better results. “Governments think green and see cash. So we get tax after tax, conceived in the name of the environment, which rob the industry of the cash to invest in technology. And there is no guarantee that any of the funds collected will be invested in environment-related projects. Examples include the Dutch departure tax or Europe’s plan to bring aviation into its regional emissions trading scheme that will distort markets and create an international legal mess,” said Bisignani.

“Positive economic measures are one pillar of our strategy - provided they are globally coordinated, fair and voluntary. The focus must be a global solution coordinated through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). That’s what the drafter of Kyoto envisaged. Now governments - including those in Europe - must make the ICAO process deliver successful results,” said Bisignani.

“This stand is a reminder of the potential for technical and operational achievements. The ‘to do’ list for governments is long. For Europe, at the top of the list is a Single European Sky. It could deliver 16 million tonnes of CO2 savings annually and shave over EUR 5 billion off the fuel bill. The technical solutions exist. But we’ve been waiting decades for governments to sort out the politics. It’s time for results,” said Bisignani.

View Giovanni Bisignani's full speech

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 Amsterdam Schiphol for two months. The stand has been placed at Schiphol with the cooperation of Schiphol Airport, KLM and the Board of Airline representatives in the Netherlands (BARIN).
  • 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” - a video version of the stand.