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What does it take to secure a sustainable future for aviation?

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times. Aviation, as a strategic European infrastructure, will continue to play a vital role with regards to ensuring safe mobility across the continent but it must significantly reduce its environmental footprint. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) will be an essential enabler for this and deserves priority attention, while aviation’s green transition must also be a just transition, where environmental and social sustainability go hand in hand. 

“European pilots are fully committed to the Paris Agreement, support the goals of the European Green Deal and the ‘Fit for 55’ package, and are willing to help build a greener, socially and economically robust future for aviation,” says ECA Vice-President Juan Carlos Lozano, referring to ECA’s newly presented Position Paper ‘Securing a Sustainable Future for Aviation”. “We are ready to contribute concretely to the collective effort to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint. Our ambition is to collaborate with the industry and regulators in promoting new operational practices and procedures bringing further environmental gains while keeping safety as a priority,” declared Lozano.

ECA is hopeful that the on-going EU legislative processes will deliver the right regulatory vehicles to set aviation on its decarbonisation path. As such ECA supports the so-called SAF allowances mechanism, which has gained traction in the European Parliament and also in the Council. "However, additional policy initiatives are urgently needed if an EU blending mandate is not to remain wishful thinking at the end of the day,” commented Lozano. “We urge all industry players, the Member States and the European Commission to act in a truly public-private partnership spirit and to swiftly take concrete actions to boost the production and uptake of SAF by building-up a strong industrial pillar in Europe,” he concluded.  

Aviation must reinvent itself and become a sustainable, robust and resilient 3.0 industry

’Building back better’ has become the new motto in the post-crisis era. It is the European pilots’ firm belief that aviation must seize this opportunity to ‘reinvent’ itself and become, again, a sustainable, robust and resilient 3.0 industry – a pre-requisite for any further growth perspective in the long-term. Sustainability must therefore be the cornerstone of any aviation rebuilding. And sustainability is threefold: environmental, economic and social. 

“More than ever, it is essential that greening aviation, which has become and rightly so a top priority, does not come at the expense of social rights and quality employment,” says Otjan de Bruijn, ECA President. New airline business models, the mushrooming of precarious atypical employment forms, and, more recently, COVID-19 pandemic have shaken the industry and deteriorated aircrews’ working environment. “ECA calls upon policymakers to enable a regulatory and policy environment that promotes social sustainability at all stages of the transition towards a decarbonised aviation sector,” he stressed. 

Note to editors

ECA is the representative body of over 40,000 pilots from across Europe, striving for the highest levels of aviation safety and fostering social rights and quality employment for pilots in Europe. 

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