Europe’s major carriers demand reform of EU airspace

Europe’s major airlines have called for urgent reform of EU airspace, arguing CO2 emissions on some intra-European routes could be cut be up to 19% if routes were shortened.

They blame the European Commission for failing to act, but the EC blames individual member states.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren told the Airlines for Europe summit in Brussels last week: “Airspace reform is a ‘net zero’ priority. It’s been debated for over 20 years, [but] it’s the quickest, least-expensive way to reduce emissions today.”

He suggested an easyJet flight between Paris and Milan could save 19% on fuel and the resulting CO2 emissions if permitted to fly in a straight line and said: “What is the cost of removing that CO2?”

An EC study concluded airspace reform could cut overall flight CO2 emissions in Europe by 10%.

Lundgren argued: “Routing is done so inefficiently. We must focus on this reform for the sake of the planet. This is the cheapest way to remove CO2. It’s a 19% reduction in emissions on a route that people fly daily, when the issue has been on the table for 20 years. There is no excuse.”

He noted: “You can’t point to a single organisation that owns the issue. It’s up to every member state. The barrier is domestic politics.”

Lundgren added: “I haven’t met a politician who doesn’t agree we should have airspace reform. The focus on sustainability has never been so great. Why not take this opportunity?

“Is it reasonable that because of politics we emit 19% more CO2 on a route?”

Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr insisted: “It just needs the political will.”

But Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary argued: “It’s naïve to expect individual countries to reform [their airspace]. The EC has to drive this through. The problem is the EC doesn’t want to drive it through. The Commission doesn’t do anything.”

EU transport commissioner Adina Ioana Valean blamed EU member states for the failure, telling the summit: “I don’t understand why member states don’t support this reform.

“If our proposal for reform was taken forward we could save 10% of CO2 emissions.”

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