The goal of the aviation industry in Europe to tackle its sustainability issues must not end up at odds with airlines’ viability, according to Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr.

“Europe can become a global leader in decarbonising aviation, but achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 should not erode the competitiveness of European airlines.”

Mr Spohr made the comments at an aviation summit hosted by Europe’s largest airline association, A4E. He outlined his concerns regarding the airlines of Europe committing to aligning themselves with the sustainability target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and subsequently putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Lufthansa, IAG, EasyJet, Ryanair and Air France-KLM are some of the major airlines represented at this year’s A4E assembly.

Airlines shouldn’t be “punished for doing more”

Specifically, Mr Spohr said carriers shouldn’t be “punished for doing more” than rivals from countries where governments are not as occupied with the challenge posed by climate change.

Network carriers that use regional airlines with smaller aircraft to serve hubs from smaller cities, such as Lufthansa, face competition from both within the region and from the airlines abroad that feed its hubs.

Lufthansa A319. @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar
Like other network carriers, Lufthansa faces fierce competition from both local and foreign airlines. | @ Marco Macca / Travel Radar

Mr Spohr believes the viability of both types of the airline comes into question when you consider external operators not being subjected to the same regulations relating to environmental footprint, adding:

“To be successful, policies must be designed to avoid distorting competition between European stakeholders within the single aviation market, as well as between European and non-European airlines.”

Global regulations alignment crucial

A solution to this issue, dubbed “global uniform regulation”, has now been proposed by A4E members, including Mr Spohr, which includes a global carbon price.

The members believe the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organisation Assembly in September is an ideal opportunity to float the concept and to adopt a “long-term aspirational goal” aligned with the net-zero target for just under 30 years’ time.

What do you think of the idea of “global uniform regulation”? Let us know in the comments below.

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