LONDON, UKBritish low-cost carrier EasyJet said that governments need to get behind zero-emission aircraft including hydrogen-powered models envisaged by Airbus if they’re to become a reality by the 2030s.

Airlines that operate such planes should benefit from tax breaks and reduced airspace and airport charges, while state support will be key in developing hydrogen supplies and infrastructure, EasyJet Chief Executive Officer Johan Lundgren said Tuesday at an Airbus sustainability event.

The aviation industry has put forward a range of proposals as it seeks to burnish its green credentials before next month’s COP26 climate summit in Scotland. EasyJet said that while it will embrace near-term measures such as sustainable aviation fuel, the most effective long-term solution for short-haul operators is a wholesale switch to zero-carbon hydrogen and electric aircraft.

“It needs to be an effort by everybody including governments to make sure there’s a plan of how to decarbonize,” Lundgren said at the event in Toulouse, France. “One of the things I’m skeptical of is well-meaning attempts by some policymakers that will strangle aviation by impacting demand.”

Airlines are currently reliant on carbon offsets as an immediate response to cutting emissions, with the role of SAF limited by a lack of availability and consequently higher costs. Even so, the CEO said he’s concerned that too much focus on SAF risks hurting investment in true zero-emission technologies.

Commercial aviation’s share of CO2 output from fossil fuels jumped 29% between 2013 and 2019, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation in Washington, and the sector faces renewed scrutiny as flights resume following groundings at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a release before speaking at the event, Lundgren said aviation taxes should be plowed into research and development budgets. Luton, England-based EasyJet has partnered with Airbus on developing a hydrogen plane by 2035 and aims to reach net-zero by 2050.

Airbus said separately that it’s stepping up collaboration with Air France-KLM and French airspace navigation agency DSNA on the development of “most energy-efficient flights” following a demonstration trip from Paris to Toulouse at the start of the sustainability forum.
Via Bloomberg