An astonishing $123 billion in state support has been committed from governments to airlines in the past couple of months. In Europe alone, the two Spanish airlines Vueling and Iberia will receive €1 billion from government-backed loans, Lufthansa has secured €9 billion on financial support from the German government and the French government has provided Air France a state aid of €7 billion, followed by many other airlines that have requested or been given state support to help them through the crisis.
by Theye Veen – Managing Director SkyNRG
The pandemic haltering travel has brought the ever-increasing global connectivity we have enjoyed and taken for granted, down. One of the hardest-hit sectors has been the aviation industry and airlines worldwide are facing tough times. As a result, governments are stepping up to assists airlines in their efforts to survive. This response has sprouted numerous discussions on how to shape this support and if there should be conditions attached to it. In particular, the question on whether this support should be directly linked to climate targets has been a major point of focus in this widespread debate and involves complicated dilemmas.
Recently, it was published that KLM too will receive a 3,4 billion euros support package from the Dutch government. In return, it should adhere to a fixed set of conditions. The ambition to link state support to sustainability goals has been translated into two concrete pillars. KLM should commit to a 50% reduction of CO2 emission per passenger-kilometer by 2030 and in addition, it should ensure 14% of its fuel consumption is sustainable by 2030 and take part in the biokerosene facility in Delfzijl: targets that entail a strong call to action.
Naturally, we support the proposed sustainability intentions. However, the inevitable truth remains that the global production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel is currently limited and there are still many hurdles to overcome to scale up SAF in an affordable and sustainable way. So instead of shifting the major challenges, the industry faces towards an airline’s responsibility, this is perhaps the moment to remember that “ we are in this together” and that this should be viewed as a call to action for all of us.
We should see it as the joint responsibility of both the industry, its supply chains, relevant stakeholders, corporates, individuals, and governments to step up now and take a collaborative approach in achieving the highly needed transition to sustainable aviation.
In February this year, I participated in the first Round table on Sustainable Aviation part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, an initiative by HRH The Prince of Wales and supported by WEF. This initiative seeks to brings together all different stakeholders related to the aviation sector to jointly engage in developing breakthrough solutions to accelerate the industry transition and decarbonize air travel, following a 10-Point Action Plan underpinning the key areas of attention.
Building on the various private and business initiatives that already exist to bring together partners and align missions to collaboratively support the transition for sustainable aviation, I was reminded how we need the opportunities these multi-stakeholder initiatives can bring – from boosting awareness to sending a market signal, to the sharing of financial risks.
Already for a long time, SkyNRG has seen the relevance of collective action. Working to create and shape a collaborative approach to stimulate solution for decarbonizing the aviation industry, SkyNRG together with KLM first launched a corporate biofuel program in 2012, affording corporates the option to fly on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) by covering the price gap between SAF and fossil fuel.
Another great example is our participation in the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF), where stakeholders across global aviation value chains are working together to address a key challenge the industry faces, namely how to step up new technologies and reframe policy mechanisms in order to become financially competitive with fossil fuel-derived options.
Furthermore, joining collaborations such as the Green Recovery Alliance and the Business for Nature coalition is obvious for SkyNRG. With its operational rationale based on the recognition and need for a joint approach, it has set to engender collaboration and participate wherever possible in the transition to a more sustainable aviation industry.
In these current times, where airlines need to rebuild and are forced to shift priorities, there is a strong need for non-aviation stakeholders to step in and support the industry through the push for SAF development and decarbonization. Leading with Europe’s first dedicated SAF production facility, (DSL-01), SkyNRG has launched a practical solution for organizations to decarbonize: Board Now. This program allows corporates the opportunity to offset their emissions from business travel by committing to the offtake of SAF from this facility. PwC, Skyscanner, the Etraveli Group and Microsoft have already stepped up with commitments that not only help reduce their emissions from air travel but also allow them to support the enabling of new SAF production capacity. Moreover, stepping in now gives corporates the opportunity to take responsibility and re-align their albeit reduced travel needs with their sustainability agenda, setting an example as the world slowly returns to travel.
The most critical ingredient to continuing the ongoing developments and growth in the scale-up of SAF production is the need for all to join forces and re-embark on the sustainability path already set. It will be the conscious acknowledgement that we are in this together and our collective action coming forth from this that will enable us to reach the final goal of creating a sustainable future for aviation.