Tui Travel wants concerted action to cut carbon emissions. Deputy chief executive Johan Lundgren spoke to Ian Taylor.

Tui Travel’s Johan Lundgren stood out among industry leaders at World Travel Market last week by calling for a tax on carbon emissions.

Lundgren told a WTM panel: “We’re going to need international taxes. It’s a necessity.”

He demanded action from industry and government, insisting:

“Governments need to put sustainability back on the agenda.”

However, what the Tui Travel deputy chief executive most wants is “a common framework to record emissions”. He told Travel Weekly:

“If we’re going to see dramatic reductions in carbon emissions it’s important to let customers have a transparent view of how travel with this company versus that company impacts environmentally.

“That is why we call for a common framework.”

Lundgren believes it should be compulsory: “Then we could all display it and customer pressure would accelerate action at other companies.

“We don’t dispute the industry should take environmental responsibility. But there has to be a system where players who do a good job are incentivised and those that don’t are penalised.”

EU attempts to impose an emissions trading scheme (ETS) on airlines remain stuck and an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) scheme is now touted as an alternative.

Lundgren said: “We approve of ETS, but the ICAO suggestion is a good one. The concern is we’re going to wait until 2016 for a proposal for implementation in 2020. That is a long time.”

He added: “We are upset about APD. We would like it replaced. But it’s not about the amount of tax. It’s the fact that some airlines are 40% less efficient.”

Tui Travel has already hit a target it set in 2008 of a 6% emissions reduction across its fleet by 2014.

Lundgren said: “We achieved it early so the target is now 9% by 2014.”

He wouldn’t be drawn on longer-term targets, although Tui Travel will be disappointed if fleet emissions are not cut by 20% by 2020, when airline body Iata aims merely to have stabilised emissions across members’ fleets.

Lundgren is sceptical about the kind of target set by Iata – a 50% overall reduction in emissions by 2050. He said:

“Unless you set targets close to today, what do you do now or next year?

“When we said in 2008 ‘we want a 6% reduction in airline emissions’ we didn’t know what that meant. It forced us to think. We needed to do something different – add winglets [to aircraft], use different paint, use a different wax seal so it would attract less dirt and not cause so much drag in flight. The target was a catalyst. Then you have to measure, measure, measure.”

The group has made similar progress in reducing energy use at hotels and plans no let up. Lundgren said: “Our business model is about delivering a unique holiday experience. To do that, we need control of hotels.

“We make a commitment for up to five years, but we’ve been working with some people for 27 years. Do you think they are miserable?

“This is not short term or about making a quick buck. The investment does not pay back over one year.

“The frustration is that we’re not on a level playing field when there is no common framework on reporting.”