In the dynamic world of business aviation, day-to-day operational challenges mean that focusing on the long term is often put off till another day. Nonetheless, developments in sustainability, new technologies, and regulations are reshaping our industry. At the EBAA Ambassador’s Thought Leadership Session at EBACE, my fellow panelists and I were asked to reflect on the evolutions that will impact business aviation in the years to come and discuss strategies to embrace future changes for the benefit of the whole industry.
Some of the legacies of the COVID-19 pandemic is the negative impact it had on travel, passenger trust, and airport operations. but these created a need for new innovations that are more efficient and less disruptive. It also put sustainability as the main focus of the industry’s aspirational efforts. Thus, a question that featured prominently in our discussion— how can we help business aviation companies lower their carbon footprint?
The business community is making tremendous efforts to achieve carbon-neutral growth and half our total emission by 2050 but sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) need to be more accessible and affordable. As of now, the technologies and infrastructures needed to make SAF widely available are not developed enough, and prices are not competitive. Neither the producer nor the consumer should be left with the cost burden. International governments need to push commercial incentives to encourage investment and stimulate demand. According to Eurocontrol, the EU Commission’s ReFuelEU Aviation initiative is considering a SAF mandate requiring jet fuel suppliers at EU airports to blend an increasing percentage of SAF into their fuel from 2025. This will expedite SAF availability in Europe.
Although concentrating on reducing emissions has to be our long-term priority, in the meantime, off-setting is helpful. This is why UAS has just announced that we will not charge handling fees for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) ordered by operators for the next six months because we are trying to motivate operators to convert to SAF and encourage suppliers to make SAF more accessible globally. Sustainability calculators or carbon calculators are widely available online and provide operators with all the tools required to get a correct measurement of their emissions. Like anything though, integrity and transparency are the two key deciders of whether operators do a good job of it or not. There are opportunities for companies offering off-setting solutions, but for us at UAS, what we can and are doing is choosing our preferred suppliers carefully and working with only the most environmentally conscious and responsible vendors globally, so every step of the supply chain is as carbon friendly as possible.
Another question we pondered was how we can collectively work to show the wider public the essentialness of business aviation instead of the opinion many people hold that it is concerned mainly with luxury and elitism. In truth, business aviation is the most flexible, efficient, and powerful method of international travel. Misconceptions about business aviation’s environmental record are generally held by those who also hold the dated idea that business aviation is an extravagance and not a tool that enhances efficiency and flexibility. As people become accustomed to the ease and speed of business aviation, they tend not to fly commercial again. But for those who are unaware of the strides the business aviation community is making when it comes to going carbon neutral by 2050, environmental concerns and misinformation may put them off.
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