ITT 2019: Aviation sector must ‘re-invent itself’ – easyJet chief

The aviation sector needs to “re-invent itself” as customers become more conscious of the impact of flying on the environment.

EasyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said the airline had started to invest in electric aircraft and predicted they would be launched by 2030.

“The whole debate about sustainability is absolutely relevant and should be there and will continue to grow in importance,” Lundgren told delegates at this year’s ITT conference.

“EasyJet has one of the most efficient operations within Europe. We are one of the most carbon-efficient airlines in the world.”

But he highlighted legacy carriers which were not investing in cleaner fuel.

“We are competing against companies which are 25-30% worse than we are, which have fleet that are 15 to 20 years old, and flying with 70% load factors and not investing in its technology,” Lundgren said.

“I will not defend the industry as a whole as long as that continues.

“People will start choosing not only different means of transportation, but will increasingly have a closer look at what companies they want to travel with and make a choice (based on) what is good for the environment.

“The aviation sector needs to re-invent itself in the long term. We have chosen to go down the electric route, others have chosen bio fuel. All are good and the solution might be a mix of the two.”

Asked about a levy on airline fares to protect against airline failure, Lundgren reiterated calls for a “risk-based” system.

In May, a number of Europe’s leading airlines, including easyJet, opposed a levy on fares to fund repatriation of passengers when a carrier fails and instead want regulators to consider the finances of airlines when extending licences to operate.

Lundgren said: “Everybody in this industry knows when a company is in trouble. It is not rocket science. The regulator and the Department for Transport have a responsibility to do better due diligence about some of these companies which are on the brink.

“If there is a protection system, we are not against that, but it needs to be risk-based. We have the second strongest balance sheet in the sector.

“Why should we pay the same amount when the risk for us going bankrupt is significantly less than others?”

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