KUALA LUMPUR, 15 September 2021: The Association of Asia
Pacific Airlines (AAPA) targets net-zero emissions by 2050 that exceeds the
existing industry commitment to halve carbon emissions by the same deadline.

AAPA says it fully embraces the aviation industry’s climate
change commitments to date, with it being a leader amongst global sectors in
establishing a comprehensive sustainability agenda.  This includes 1.5% fuel efficiency
improvement, stabilising net CO2 emissions through carbon-neutral growth, as
well as a new, more ambitious long-term goal of net-zero carbon emissions by
2050.

Noting that the cooperation of multiple stakeholders
including governments, air navigation services, fuel suppliers, airports,
aircraft and engine manufacturers would be essential to the successful
achievement of the net-zero emissions goal, AAPA stressed that the industry’s
pathway to this ambitious target is an all-industry effort based on a
combination of technology, operational improvements, sustainable aviation fuels
(SAF), and a global market-based measure, namely the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and
Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Sustainable aviation fuels are expected to feature heavily
in the industry’s overall reduction in carbon emissions by almost completely
replacing fossil fuels on commercial flights by 2050.  Support from governments and other
stakeholders to commercialise SAF through research & development,
subsidies, incentives, as well as the allocation of resources for its
development and distribution will be crucial to ensure adequate and cost-effective
supplies to meet the needs of the airline industry.  Significant quantities of SAF will be needed
by the industry as 80% of emissions are from flights over 1500 km, for which
aircraft powered by alternative energy sources, such as electricity and
hydrogen, are not available.

Underscoring the task that lies ahead, AAPA director
general  Subhas Menon said: “The
Asia Pacific region will constitute some 40% of global SAF demand, but
production and supply facilities in the region are lacking.  Allocation of sufficient resources to convert
feedstock, like municipal or agricultural waste, waste oils from food
production and other biomass for the production of SAF will make a critical
difference.”

On the market–based measures, Menon elaborated: “CORSIA
has an integral part to play in achieving this ambitious long term commitment.
It is the agreed global mechanism for offsetting growth in international
aviation CO2 emissions since 2020.  AAPA
wholly supports ICAO’s efforts on this front and will continue to encourage
States to participate in the scheme fully. In addition, investment in emerging
sources of energy such as direct carbon capture and carbon sequestration when
these become viable could complement the industry’s efforts towards achieving
net-zero emissions.”

Menon explained: “Sustainability is a global challenge that
calls for a global solution. Together, we need to ensure that distribution of
the burden of reducing carbon emissions is fair and equitable while allowing
the industry to recover and restart.”

Turning to air travel recovery, AAPA noted that the Asia
Pacific was the first region to be heavily impacted by Covid-19, but has now
lagged behind other regions in showing improvement in travel demand.  While other regions are easing restrictions
on the back of successful vaccination roll-outs, borders in Asia still remain
largely closed due to low vaccination levels.

Greater collaboration amongst governments to streamline
border measures and address vaccine inequity is critical in speeding up air
travel recovery.  Governments need to
agree on an objective basis for the easing of border restrictions for
quarantine-free travel, in line with WHO and ICAO guidelines.

One possible approach could be a progressive framework based
on government-determined thresholds of vaccination levels domestically to ease
travel restrictions and quarantine requirements gradually.  Such a framework would encompass bilateral
travel lanes that allow for the reciprocal movements of primarily vaccinated
travellers between places of similar risk levels, with the ultimate goal of
allowing quarantine-free travel for a wide range of persons.

In closing, Menon said: “AAPA reaffirms its strong
support for ICAO and its member states to forge a global consensus on a
collaborative pathway to address aviation emissions in the longer term.  A comprehensive approach involving multiple
stakeholders to deliver emissions reductions is key to resilient and
sustainable aviation industry. In parallel, a common objective framework to
gradually reopen borders will set the industry on the path to much-needed
recovery.  Aviation is a key contributor
to the social and economic well-being of the Asia Pacific region and continues
to play a vital role in facilitating the transportation of much-needed supplies
across the region during the current pandemic.”