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Environmental responsibility is a pillar of the air transport industry

Environmental responsibility is a pillar of the air transport industry—alongside safety and security, said Giovanni Bisignani…

Environmental responsibility is a pillar of the air transport industry—alongside safety and security, said Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) at the first Aviation and the Environment Summit being held in Geneva, Switzerland 17 and 18 March 2005.

The first step is to understand the record of the industry. Air transport should be proud of our record. Modern aircraft have a fuel efficiency of 3.5 litres per 100 passenger kilometers—equivalent to a small compact car, but offering 6 times the speed. In the last 40 years we reduced emissions per passenger kilometer by 70% and aircraft noise at source reduced by 75%, said Bisignani.

Technology: Technology and operational enhancements are key to further improvements. The case for investment in more fuel efficient aircraft is compelling. Every new aircraft that enters our fleet is more environmentally friendly than the one it replaces. With a fuel bill over US$60 billion, even a 10% improvement in fuel efficiency would deliver 2% to the bottom line of the industry. But airlines need the funds to invest in the new aircraft that would make this possible. Governments must remember that airlines, unlike other modes of transport, pay for their own infrastructure—when they land, park or fly. The bill for this is US$40 billion per year. Further taxes and charges will only limit our ability to invest in the very technology that would facilitate further improvements, said Bisignani.

Efficient Operations: Efficient operations mean better environmental performance. The industry has worked to optimise aircraft separation and area navigation resulting in reduced flight times and fuel consumption, But much more needs to be done. If we could save a minute on every flight each year we would save 4.2 million tons of CO2 emissions and US$3.6 billion on total operating costs including $700 million on fuel. Simply eliminating delays in Europe would save 1 million tons of CO2 emissions, 15 million minutes of unnecessary flight and US$1.5 billion in wasted operating costs. Changing the Single European Sky from a 15-year failure story to an effective reality offers immediate and achievable benefits, said Bisignani.

Economic Measures: IATA supports the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on any economic measures to address environmental performance. Air transport is a global industry and needs a global solution. Governments gave last year`s ICAO Assembly the responsibility to find a solution by 2007. We must find a solution that eliminates disparities with other subsidised forms of transport, such as trains. While some governments support emissions trading, we need further research into emissions trading conducted through ICAO, said Bisignani

Partnership: Airlines, airports and air navigation service providers are developing a united, realistic and meaningful industry-wide consensus on the environment. As partners we are committed to look for solutions with governments, said Bisignani.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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