Aviation’s recovery must be matched by progress on decarbonisation

posted on 11th November 2021 by Eddie Saunders
Aviation’s recovery must be matched by progress on decarbonisation

Over 3 million passengers travelled through Heathrow during October, delivering a sixth consecutive month of growth.

Relaxation of travel rules ahead of half-term unleashed pent up demand, with close to 100,000 travellers a day, up 144% compared with the same time last year.

Despite clear signs of recovery, passenger levels remain 56% down on pre-pandemic levels.

With air travel at other major European airports recovering faster, Ministers should reassess testing requirements for fully vaccinated passengers and the Passenger Locator Form at the next Global Travel Taskforce review, to ensure the UK is aligned with its European competitors.

As the recovery continues, Heathrow’s focus remains on the race to net zero.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) hold the key to cutting carbon today but to upscale their use, the Government must introduce a price stability mechanism to foster investment in production, as well as an escalating mandate to blend SAF – with a target of 10% by 2030 and at least 50% by 2050.

British Airways demonstrated the capabilities of SAF earlier this week, powering their first flight back to the US with 35% SAF – the highest level for a commercial transatlantic flight ever used.

The extent to which Heathrow can support the elements of the economic recovery which will be driven by increased international travel and trade, will depend on the CAA’s next regulatory outcome.

To deliver the safe, resilient and sustainable airport passengers and exporters need, the regulator must ensure the settlement reflects the size of the asset and costs required to run and invest in it.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “As the journey to recovery accelerates, aviation’s ambitions to decarbonise must keep pace.

“We need to keep our foot to the pedal, working to make air travel guilt-free and Government must act with a mandate for 10% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by 2030 and a price stability mechanism to upscale SAF usage, if we are to tackle the industry’s biggest challenge – carbon.”