Electric flying not feasible for larger planes or longer distances

There has been a lot of mention in recent years about the possibility of planes being powered by electricity. That has the potential to cut the CO2 emissions of aircraft. However, the aspiration of electric planes is likely to be a dangerous diversion from taking measures now to cut the CO2 from the sector, if it has the effect of creating the false hope of breakthroughs. The reality is that flying needs a very energy-dense fuel, such as kerosene. Currently there are some tiny planes, able to carry under 10 passengers, that may be able to make short flights, of under 1,000 km, in the next few years. That is entirely different from a passenger plane carrying 200 passengers many thousand miles.  Power is particularly needed on take-off, and while climbing. Liquid jet fuel is burned during the flight, so the planes lands lighter than when it took off. The battery is the same weight throughout, putting more stress on the plane while landing. The engines would have to use propellers, and not be jets – and there are limits on how fast propellers can turn. There are real constraints, caused by physics, in the ability of electricity to power larger aircraft.
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Electric flying unfeasible for longer distances

June 2020

From Schiphol Watch, in the Netherlands

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use of electricity as a source of energy for aircraft. Is ‘sustainable flying’ within reach? An expert from the aviation industry explains.

“In order to answer this question, I will first discuss the energy consumption of modern passenger aircraft in this article, and continue with a historical overview of the development to arrive at electric flying.

As will become clear, electric flying is (unfortunately) not possible with conceivable means, except in a few niches. Ultimately, it must therefore be concluded that the discussion about electric flying is in serious need of ‘reframing’.

Passenger aircraft energy use
Airplanes come in all shapes and sizes, with takeoff weights ranging from a few hundred kilograms to several hundred tons. Commercial aircraft are large, especially the aircraft that take care of the lion’s share of air transport.

A modern aircraft like the Boeing 747-8 has an empty weight of 215 tons and a maximum take-off weight (MOTW) of 442 tons. The payload is usually 20 to 25 percent of the latter. I’m counting 88 tons here, which is equivalent to 460 passengers plus cargo. For this example, 120 tons of fuel go into the tanks.

It does not matter for the time being how far this takes us, but it does matter that the fuel has almost run out at the end of the flight. The average weight in flight thus comes to 215 + 88 + 120/2 = 363 tons.

The average lift force to be generated is therefore equal to 363,000 x 9.81 = 3,561 kilonewton (mass x gravity). Now the modern Boeing 747-8 has a glide ratio of 17.7. That slip number is the ratio between the lift force and the air resistance. Dividing gives us 3,561 / 17.7 = 201 kilonewton to overcome resistance.

We also know that this aircraft has a cruising speed of 912 km / h or 253 meters per second. From this we can calculate the power: after all, that is force times speed. We then arrive at 201 x 253 = 50.9 megawatts. In addition, there is some extra power for the on-board systems (electricity, air conditioning), but we leave that out of consideration for the sake of convenience.

Smaller planes obviously consume less. Power scales with weight at a comparable speed and at a similar glide ratio. With current aircraft, speed and glide ratio are quite close together. So what it comes down to is the ratio of curb weight, payload and fuel. And the latter of course strongly depends on the desired flight distance.

However you look at it: flying is very energy intensive.

The fuel consumption is correspondingly. Kerosene has a calorific value of 43 megajoules per kilogram. The jet engines have an efficiency of approximately 45 percent and thus generate 43 x 0.45 = 19.4 megajoules of propulsion power per kilogram of fuel.

This means that the power of 50.9 megawatts requires a fuel consumption of 50.9 / 19.4 = 2.6 kilograms per second. With the aforementioned 120 tons of kerosene, the B747-8 can fly 120,000 / 2.6 = 45,800 seconds. That is 12.7 hours or about 11,000 kilometers.

This is not an unusual flight duration and distance for this B747-8. In practice, we do not make it, because taking off and accelerating also costs fuel that we do not fully see due to the mentioned efficiency due to lowering and braking. The analysis is therefore only indicative.

We can also express fuel consumption in passenger kilometers per liter. The speed of about 250 meters per second means that we need 2.6 x 4 = 10.4 kilograms or 10.4 kg / 0.8 = 13 liters per km per kilometer (the specific gravity of kerosene is 0, 8 kg per liter). With 460 passengers we arrive at 460/13 = 35 passenger-kilometers per liter.

If you drive at 90 km / h on the highway in a car that consumes 1 liter of petrol per 17.5 km and take a passenger with you, you will arrive at the same consumption. But the B747-8 goes ten (!) Times faster. This is an indication of the high degree of perfection that typifies modern aircraft.

How has this technology developed so far?

The first jet for passenger transport was the De Havilland Comet from 1958. If we put the energy consumption at 100 percent of this, then the first substantial improvement was quickly realized: around 1970, only 12 years later, people already flew about twice as efficiently. .

This was mainly due to the arrival of the ‘bypass fan’, a greatly improved jet engine, an increase in scale and various smaller improvements. The next factor two in efficiency improvement has now also been realized. Airplanes like the B747-8 account for about 25 percent of the fuel consumption of the Comet.

However, that last step took from 1970 to 2010 to be realized, so roughly three times longer than the first step. We can therefore conclude that modern aircraft are very well developed, not only in terms of energy consumption, but also in the field of safety. In fact, aircraft are therefore fully developed.

Even a radically different design, such as the ‘flying wing’, only brings about 20 percent further improvement in terms of passenger-kilometers per liter of kerosene. At the same time, we must note that aviation is innovating diligently, but at a slow pace. Carbon components, for example, have been available since the early 1970s to reduce the unladen weight over conventional aluminum grades. However, they only first aired in 2011 with the arrival of the B787 Dreamliner.

The delayed application of new technology can be explained by the high costs and high risks of such innovations.

Electric flying
Especially thanks to the comet-like rise of Tesla, battery technology – in terms of how much energy can be stored in a kg battery – has improved significantly in a relatively short time. A modern lithium-ion battery, the workhorse in the world of electric cars, achieves 0.9 megajoules per kilogram.

Suppose “our” B747-8 uses this type of battery instead of kerosene. We must then replace the jet engines with electric propellers. As a result, the speed drops from 250 to 165 meters per second because, in practical terms, propellers simply do not go faster.

Of course, the entire aircraft should be redesigned, but we will not consider that for this first sketch.

Empty weight, payload and glide ratio therefore remain the same in this analysis. The take-off weight will be 215 + 88 + 120 = 423 tons and this will remain the same throughout the flight. The resistance is then 423 x 9.81 / 17.7 = 234 kilonewton, the required power is 234 x 165 = 39 megawatt.

Now, at best, a propeller has an efficiency of 75 percent. Assuming 100 percent efficient electric motors, 39 / 0.75 = 51 megawatt power is then required. That drains 51 / 0.9 = 57 kilograms of batteries per second.

With 120 tons of batteries on board, we can therefore fly roughly 120,000 / 57 = 2100 seconds: just over half an hour.

This rough sketch makes it clear that electric flying is possible, but certainly not for long distances. It is an option for short flights, especially if the cruising speed is considerably reduced.

The German company Lilium GmbH, among others, focuses on this segment and expects to be able to supply a five-seater aircraft with a range of 300 kilometers in 2025.

In principle, this technology can be scaled up to larger aircraft, which could enter the current short-haul market by 2030. However, speed and range, and therefore transport performance, will nowhere near aircraft like the B747-8.

For this 747-8, ‘hybrid drive’ is also an option for an incremental improvement: under the name E-Fan X, a consortium led by Airbus has already started the first developments in this area. Here too, however, long distances remain out of the picture.

Yet another niche is that of the ‘air taxi’, a quadcopter for vertical takeoff and landing. Electric propulsion is promising for this, but this type of flight is completely incomparable with, for example, a transatlantic flight.

Reframing required
With the foregoing, I try to make clear how energy-intensive flying actually is, how sophisticated the existing technology is already and that electric flying is only suitable for short distances.

Apart from that, I have not yet discussed the costs of such a development and the time required for the further development of electric flying.

Anyone who claims that electric flying is sustainable does not only underestimate the state of the art, but also the limits of physics.

Instead of stating that ‘technology will solve it further’, these people should thoroughly question how realistic it is that the desired transition will take place, and to what extent.

The burden of proof lies with them. As Aldous Huxley put it beautifully: “Facts don’t cease to exist because they are ignored”.

The author is an aeronautical engineer. For private reasons, this person refrains from actively participating in the discussion.

NOTE TO EDITORS
Originally published in Dutch at SchipholWatch
https://schipholwatch.nl/2020/06/29/elektrisch-vliegen-onhaalbaar-voor-langere-afstanden/This translation is made with Google Translate from the original document.This article may be published, distributed and translated freely if you add a link to our website https://schipholwatch.nl or to the location of the original article.Please do send us the URL to any republished location, so we can also link back to your site! You can reach us via info@schipholwatch.nl

SchipholWatch

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See also:

Why Boris’s zero-emission long-haul British aircraft is just pie in the sky

The prime minister’s call for Jet Zero on Tuesday may owe more to his fondness for a punchy slogan than any realistic view of how UK aviation might develop in the next 30 years. His wish for the UK to build long-haul zero- emissions plane may never be achieved.  It is just not credible. Short-range electric flight is, for the very smallest planes, already a reality.  Multiple firms, including UK start-ups, are working on zero-emission eVtols – electric vertical take-off and landing craft, or flying taxis – for domestic inter-city travel, carrying just a handful of passengers. Battery weight and range means that manufacturers currently view larger electric planes as feasible only for short-haul flights – and even then the focus is largely on hybrid-electric, with jet fuel needed for take-off.  The big UK contribution to this vision, a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was dropped in April. Meanwhile, work continues at Cranfield university and elsewhere, trying to convince sceptics that hydrogen could eventually be a viable fuel for passenger jets, produced using surplus (??) renewably-generated electricity. Or combined to produce an “electro-fuel” – but that still emits CO2 when burned in a plane engine.

Click here to view full story…

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Airlines granted huge CO2 emissions reprieve by UN compromise, even further weakening the CORSIA scheme

The UN’s aviation emissions offsetting scheme, CORSIA, will not take 2020 into account as the baseline when calculating how much airlines have to pay to neutralise their CO2 emissions. Normally, without the atypical year due to the Covid pandemic, the emissions baseline (reference point) would have been taken as 2019 and 2020. Now only 2019 emissions will be used.  Had 2020’s far lower CO2 emissions been included, that would have created a much more taxing challenge for airlines, and would have meant them having to buy many more carbon credits, costing them much more money.  Environmental groups have derided the decision to ignore 2020’s emissions as “making a mockery” of climate policy. The change will mean that the 3-year pilot scheme will be useless, as CO2 emissions from aviation are unlikely to climb back to the level in 2019. There will be no CO2 requiring offsets, being below the now raised threshold.  According to Carbon Market Watch, “while CORSIA will officially start in 2021, airlines will not have to do anything until several years later.” Anyway, carbon credits are now ludicrously cheap.
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Airlines granted huge emissions reprieve by UN compromise

1st July 2020

The UN’s aviation emissions offsetting scheme will not take 2020 into account when calculating how much airlines have to pay to neutralise their carbon dioxide output. Environmental groups have derided the decision for “making a mockery” of climate policy.

At the end of a council meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Tuesday (30 June), its 36 members agreed to tweak the baseline for the CORSIA offset scheme.

The airline industry had requested the change, citing the virus outbreak’s impact on air travel and the additional costs that would be incurred by including this year’s lower emission figures in the calculation metric.

CORSIA’s original rules use 2019-2020 as the reference point, which would in theory drag down the offset ceiling, obligating airlines to shell out more money to neutralise their emissions.

“Council States today have made a measured assessment and have come to the most reasonable solution available given our current and very extraordinary circumstances,” said ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called the change “reasonable” and “an objective that is reachable in the long run, to reduce CO2 emissions significantly and effectively.”

Environmental groups opposed to tweaking the baseline insist that using just 2019 will render the three-year-long pilot scheme useless, as emissions growth is unlikely to climb back above 2019’s levels. There will be no CO2 to offset.

According to Carbon Market Watch, “while CORSIA will officially start in 2021, airlines will not have to do anything until several years later.” The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called it “a bad precedent”.

The financial argument made by airlines was also the subject of criticism. Carbon market analysts say that there are ample offset credits available, which means they trade for as low as 25 US cents per permit.

EDF pointed out that “it means that airlines will lose the first-mover advantage they had sought to secure through CORSIA, as other carbon market actors will beat them to the punch on long-term supply contracts.”

The ICAO council meeting ran over by nearly two days as members failed to broker a deal. The US reportedly threatened to walk away from the pilot phase if the baseline change was not made.

It is still unclear whether or not the council’s decision will need to be approved by ICAO’s full assembly of more than 190 members. A spokesperson for the secretariat of the body said it would issue legal guidance on the matter.

As part of its decision, the council also did not rule out further changes to the rules over the coming years and will decide at a later date whether the baseline tweak will apply to the rest of the scheme after the pilot phase ends.

UN aviation body dumps dodgy carbon credits

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided on Friday (13 March) to restrict how airlines, already struggling with the impact of coronavirus, can offset their emissions under a new climate change-busting mechanism.

Air EU

The European Union’s member states agreed before the start of the ICAO meeting to push for a baseline change, after every country bar Sweden voted in favour of the joint position.

“Adapting the baseline is crucial to maintaining a similar level of ambition for the scheme and the commitment of ICAO states to the CORSIA pilot phase while taking into account the extremely difficult circumstances created by the pandemic for international air traffic,” said Croatia’s transport minister, Oleg Butković, at the time.

But senior MEPs from across the political spectrum had previously urged the Council not to be too hasty in changing the rules, warning that the true economic impact of the virus is still not clear.

Dutch Greens lawmaker Bas Eickhout was among those MEPs that wanted ICAO to wait until 2022 to take stock of the situation. He told EURACTIV that yesterday’s decision is “another nail in CORSIA’s coffin”.

“Each time we see the lowest common denominator is getting lower than before. If this Commission is serious on its Green Deal it should really change course and start preparing for EU action on international aviation as well,” he added.

Environment committee chair Pascal Canfin (Renew) said that “this is clearly not good news. It is also in stark contradiction with what citizens are calling for: not to use the crisis to delay or dilute climate ambition.”

The Frenchman also added that the Commission still needs to publish its report on the environmental integrity of CORSIA and that the EU should “lead ambition to regulate aviation emissions” as part of an upcoming review of the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The EU’s carbon market currently only includes intra-EU flights between and within member states. Following a 2016 decision, the Commission agreed to exempt journeys in and out of the bloc from charges.

According to sources contacted by EURACTIV, the EU executive is not currently contemplating the idea of folding international flights into the ETS but legislative changes to how the sector is regulated might yet be made.

Airlines are issued a number of free pollution allowances every year but momentum is building behind a push to reduce or scrap completely those perks. Poland first mooted the idea earlier in 2020 and it is likely to come back on the agenda during Germany’s EU presidency.

The Commission has also proposed using ETS revenues to help repay its €750 billion virus recovery programme, which it would borrow from the capital markets. Its calculations insist that a slew of so-called own-resources could cover all the repayments.

Tapping into carbon market profits is a divisive issue that member states have rebuffed in the past. But there could be room for negotiation, as the Commission has suggested including the shipping sector and ring-fencing existing payments to sweeten the deal.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/aviation/news/airlines-granted-huge-emissions-reprieve-by-un-compromise/

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See earlier:

 

Aviation industry decision to weaken CORSIA climate plan could break ICAO’s own rules

Countries attending the UN’s ICAO meeting this week look set to weaken the only international policy to address the climate impact of aircraft. But the way the decision is being made could be in violation of the organisation’s own rules. ICAO has for years been supposed to take responsibility for international aviation CO2 emissions, but have done almost nothing. It has a scheme, CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) set up in 2016. It would, at best, deliver only small CO2 emissions reductions, nowhere approaching on the scale needed. Now ICAO plans to further weaken the CORSIA scheme, by changing the way the baseline for emissions is determined. A bad scheme would become a very bad scheme.  This may be illegal, according to its own regulations – ICAO has always been opaque and concealed information. The change of baseline, using only 2019 emissions, not the average of 2019 + 2020, would mean no airline offsetting obligations until 2028 or later. It could also reduce the overall chance of cutting aviation carbon by 25-75%. The final decision on the baseline change is expected on 26th June.

Click here to view full story…

‘Final blow’ to aviation climate plan as EU agrees to weaken rules

There had been hopes that the EU would insist on keeping more effective means of reducing carbon emitted by airlines. The current proposals by ICAO, in their CORSIA scheme, are too weak to be effective. The EU now say they will back the CORSIA scheme, which means watering down the rules.  Airlines want the baseline period, from which to measure airline carbon emissions for the CORSIA scheme, to be the two years, 2019 and 2020. But 2020 is going to be a year of atypically low airline activity. So they want the base line period to be just 2019. That means giving airlines a free pass to pollute for the next 3 to 6 years depending on the speed of the Covid recovery. That is what the EU has now agreed to, having initially stood out against it. So airlines could save $15 billion in carbon offsetting costs, paying nothing till 2024. This weakening of the scheme would further damage the credibility of the CORSIA offsetting scheme, which is widely regarded as weak and not aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. It will now become essentially meaningless.  The ineffective CORSIA scheme undermines many governments’ stated intentions to bolster climate ambition.

Click here to view full story…

Open letter to ICAO – the CORSIA scheme should not be weakened, just because of Covid

Thirteen organisations concerned with aviation carbon emissions and carbon trading, have written to ICAO to ask that they stick to the intentions for how the CORSIA scheme is set up, and do not weaken it. The stated purpose of CORSIA is to help the international aviation sector achieve “carbon-neutral growth from 2020”. It is due to use as a baseline the aviation CO2 emissions from 2019 and 2020. However, with the Covid pandemic, airline carbon emissions will be much lower than anticipated this year. If ICAO used 2019 and 2020, the amount of carbon the sector could emit, and the cost of emitting it, would be far lower than anticipated. So IATA wants to change the rules, so the carbon baseline only considers 2019, not including 2020, which would result in significantly lower offsetting requirements for airlines compared to the current CORSIA design. In fact, under most recovery scenarios, the change sought by IATA would eliminate all offsetting requirements for the duration of the CORSIA pilot phase and potentially several years thereafter. The rules need to be adhered to.

Click here to view full story…

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Why Boris’s zero-emission long-haul British aircraft is just pie in the sky

The prime minister’s call for Jet Zero on Tuesday may owe more to his fondness for a punchy slogan than any realistic view of how UK aviation might develop in the next 30 years. His wish for the UK to build long-haul zero- emissions plane may never be achieved.  It is just not credible. Short-range electric flight is, for the very smallest planes, already a reality.  Multiple firms, including UK start-ups, are working on zero-emission eVtols – electric vertical take-off and landing craft, or flying taxis – for domestic inter-city travel, carrying just a handful of passengers. Battery weight and range means that manufacturers currently view larger electric planes as feasible only for short-haul flights – and even then the focus is largely on hybrid-electric, with jet fuel needed for take-off.  The big UK contribution to this vision, a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was dropped in April. Meanwhile, work continues at Cranfield university and elsewhere, trying to convince sceptics that hydrogen could eventually be a viable fuel for passenger jets, produced using surplus (?) renewably-generated electricity. Or combined to produce an “electro-fuel” – but that still emits CO2 when burned in a plane engine.
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Why Boris’s zero emission aircraft may be mission impossible

Johnson’s vision for the UK to build long-haul Jet Zero aircraft may never leave the ground

Will Boris’s Jet Zero ever fly?

The prime minister’s call for Jet Zero on Tuesday may owe more to his fondness for a punchy slogan than any realistic view of how UK aviation might develop in the next three decades.

“We should set ourselves the goal now of producing the world’s first zero-emission long-haul passenger plane,” Boris Johnson said. “Jet Zero, let’s do it!”

But as far as the technology goes, Johnson might have more luck building a garden bridge to France than getting British-made, long-haul, zero-emission passenger planes in service before 2050.

Battery weight and range means that manufacturers currently view larger electric planes as feasible only for short-haul flights – and even then the focus is largely on hybrid-electric, with jet fuel needed for take-off.

The big UK contribution to this vision, a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was quietly canned during lockdown.

EasyJet, should it survive, has long spoken of its hopes for a short-haul electric regional plane, and engine trials with a partner in the US, they say, have been encouraging.

Meanwhile, work continues at Cranfield university and elsewhere, trying to convince sceptics that hydrogen could eventually be a viable fuel for passenger jets.

Plants to produce synthetic jet fuels could be part of a net-zero mix (although not zero-emission when burned in flight). Low-emission flight – rather than no-emission – is currently the overwhelming ambition of civil aviation engineers.

Johnson’s target for a UK-built long-haul zero-emission plane before 2050 may, alas, swiftly crash-land with reality.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/30/why-boris-jet-zero-emission-aircraft-is-mission-impossible

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‘Jet Zero’: PM targets world’s first ‘zero emission long haul passenger plane’ in UK

30 Jun 2020
By Joseph Flaig (Institute of Mechanical Engineers)

Prime minister Boris Johnson has set a target of producing the world’s first “zero emission long haul passenger aircraft” in the UK.

He made the ambitious call during his ‘New Deal’ speech, setting out plans to “rebuild Britain and fuel economic recovery” after the coronavirus pandemic.

“As part of our mission to reach ‘net-zero’ CO2 emissions by 2050, we should set ourselves the goal now of producing the world’s first zero emission long haul passenger plane,” he said. “Jet Zero, let’s do it.”

People hoping for a quick and easy solution to aviation emissions will be disappointed, however, as the technology is far from ready. Electric planes have flown in the UK and abroad, but initial projects are based around small passenger numbers and relatively short regional journeys. The Eviation Alice, for example, has nine seats and a forecast range of 1,000km.

Other efforts have failed to make substantial progress towards zero-emission flight. Airbus and Rolls-Royce’s E-Fan X project, which would have initially used one electric motor before potentially electrifying further, was recently cancelled.

Energy density is the main challenge for zero emission flight. Hydrocarbon fuels store many-times more energy per weight compared to the best batteries, making them much more suitable for large planes for the time being.

Carbon neutral flights are a long way off, wrote aerospace expert Steve Wright from the University of the West of England in Professional Engineering earlier this year: “Without an absolutely astonishing physics breakthrough, we can’t expect even a regional electric jet until about 2035. I don’t expect the first electric transatlantic passenger flight until about 2050.

“The shame about hydrogen fuel cells is they’ve got more efficiency but about the same level of complexity as conventional internal combustion engines, while current biofuels are almost more environmentally damaging than fossil fuels, thanks to deforestation and palm oil growth.”

Other ‘green’ and engineering-focused measures in the prime minister’s speech included announcements on battery ‘gigafactories’, electric vehicle supply chains and carbon capture.

“Net zero is an extremely tough but necessary target, and the future of the UK’s decarbonisation and path to net zero is contingent on key decisions made by the government during this parliament,” said Sir Jim McDonald, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering. “Three decades is a very short time to completely renew, upgrade, install and secure entire parts of the UK’s national infrastructure but if government is willing to take a truly holistic view of the system, then the engineering community stands ready to deliver on the promise and potential of decarbonisation.”

https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/jet-zero-pm-targets-world-s-first-zero-emission-long-haul-passenger-plane-in-uk

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See also:

Electric flying not feasible for larger planes or longer distances

There has been a lot of mention in recent years about the possibility of planes being powered by electricity. That has the potential to cut the CO2 emissions of aircraft. However, the aspiration of electric planes is likely to be a dangerous diversion from taking measures now to cut the CO2 from the sector, if it has the effect of creating the false hope of breakthroughs. The reality is that flying needs a very energy-dense fuel, such as kerosene. Currently there are some tiny planes, able to carry under 10 passengers, that may be able to make short flights, of under 1,000 km, in the next few years. That is entirely different from a passenger plane carrying 200 passengers many thousand miles.  Power is particularly needed on take-off, and while climbing. Liquid jet fuel is burned during the flight, so the planes lands lighter than when it took off. The battery is the same weight throughout, putting more stress on the plane while landing. The engines would have to use propellers, and not be jets – and there are limits on how fast propellers can turn. There are real constraints, caused by physics, in the ability of electricity to power larger aircraft.

Click here to view full story…


See earlier:

Airbus and Rolls-Royce have ended a joint venture to produce a hybrid-electric airliner test model

It seems the plans for a (pie-in-the-sky) electric plane before too long are even more remote than they were before … Airbus and RollsRoyce have ended a joint venture to produce a hybrid-electric airliner testbed that could have paved the way for electric aircraft of the future.  [A testbed aircraft is an aeroplane, helicopter or other kind of aircraft intended for flight research or testing the aircraft concepts or on-board equipment. These could be specially designed or modified from serial production aircraft.]  The aim was to replace or or two of four jet engines with an electric engine. There is an unrealistic hope in the industry, and by some politicians, that aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers on their holiday etc trips will, in the not too distant future, be able to fly just on electricity. The reality is that, at best, there might be planes that can carry rather few passengers for rather short distances.  Electric planes will NOT be able to substitute for planes like A320s now, travelling over 1,000 miles.  The joint venture presumably was not sufficiently successful that the companies felt the need to continue with it. They did manage to produce a keg-sized 2.5MW generator, smaller than produced before. 

https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2020/04/airbus-and-rolls-royce-have-ended-a-joint-venture-to-produce-a-hybrid-electric-airliner-test-model/

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EasyJet plans to close bases at Stansted, Newcastle and Southend – and cut staff by as much as 4,500

EasyJet says it has begun consultations on plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports, though it will keep routes using those airports. It will no longer keep planes there, or base crew there. EasyJet may also be cutting its number of employees by up to a third, about 4,500 out of 15,000 overall, due to Covid.  About 1,300 cabin crew could lose their jobs, and also 727 pilots (which is about a third of the total). The Unite union said “There is no need for this announcement at this time, especially since Easyjet has taken a multi-million pound government loan which it ought to be putting to use defending UK jobs.” But there is little demand for flying at present, and no certainty about Covid in the coming months. Easyjet currently has 11 bases in the UK, with 163 aircraft, serving 546 routes. There are 7 aircraft based at Stansted, with 335 crew. At Southend, there are 4 aircraft and 183 crew; and at Newcastle there are 3 planes and 157 crew. The job cut proposals are not limited to the bases that may close. EasyJet does not expect 2019 levels of demand to be reached again until 2023.
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EasyJet plans to close bases and cut staff

30.6.2020  (BBC)

EasyJet says it has begun consultations on plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle.

It follows an announcement by the airline that it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to a third because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Unite union said nearly 1,300 UK crew members faced losing their jobs.

Pilots’ union Balpa said it had been told by EasyJet that 727 of its UK-based pilots were also at risk of redundancy.   That is equivalent to one in three of its pilots, Balpa said.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “The lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people.

“We are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible.”

However, Balpa general secretary Brian Stratton said the job cuts were “an excessive over-reaction”.

“EasyJet won’t find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years.”

And Unite said the plan to make 1,290 cabin crew redundant was a “massive blow” for a “battered industry”.

“There is no need for this announcement at this time, especially since Easyjet has taken a multi-million pound government loan which it ought to be putting to use defending UK jobs,” said national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson.

Easyjet currently has 11 bases in the UK, with 163 aircraft, serving 546 routes.

Even though it is looking at closing the Stansted, Southend and Newcastle bases, it said the airports would remain part of its route network.

That means it will continue to fly in and out but will not have aircraft and crew based permanently at the airports.

‘Saddened’

Easyjet has seven aircraft based at Stansted, with 335 crew. At Southend, there are 183 crew and four aircraft. And there are three aircraft based in Newcastle, with 157 crew.

The job cut proposals are not limited to the bases that may close, a Unite spokesman said.

Newcastle Airport said it was “saddened to hear of possible job losses and the significant impact this would cause.”

“This is very disappointing for the airport, airline and the North East as a whole and we sympathise with everyone affected by this announcement.”

Travel restrictions

EasyJet said in May that it planned up to 4,500 job cuts as it struggled with the collapse in air travel due to the coronavirus crisis.

It has started to fly passengers again, but does not expect 2019 levels of demand to be reached again until 2023.

Airlines have been hit hard by lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world, with many announcing job cuts.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Air France/KLM would present a plan to unions on Friday to cut more than 6,500 jobs over the next two years as the airline deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

In June Lufthansa said it planned to cut 22,000 jobs, and British Airways said in April that it could cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 42,000-strong workforce.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53239256#

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EasyJet to close hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports losing 4,500 jobs

By Stephen Moyes  (The Sun)

30 Jun 2020

EASYJET will sack up to 4,500 staff and close hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports in another blow to the travel industry.

The devastating announcement was made today as the airline also admitted the rest of its UK network is “under review”.

EasyJet are to sack 4,500 staff and close three of its airport hubs

EasyJet are to sack 4,500 staff and close three of its airport hubsCredit: PinPep
Pilots union BALPA said 727 cockpit crew faced the axe – around one in three of easyJet’s 2,300 pilots in the UK.

It’s another bitter pill to swallow for an aviation industry that has been hammered by coronavirus with flights grounded and borders closed.

The airline will still continue to run flights to the airports, even if they no longer operate as hubs.

Pilots union BALPA said 727 cockpit crew faced the axe – around one in three of easyJet’s 2,300 pilots in the UK.

EasyJet is expected to lose between 4,500 and 5,000 jobs across its entire network – around 1,900 UK employees are due to go, including 727 pilots.

Airline bosses gave the grim news to union chiefs of pilots and crew, and devastated staff were left gobsmacked.

An easyJet spokeswoman told The Sun: “As part of our update to the market on 28 May 2020, easyJet set out that it may need to reduce staff numbers by up to 30% as well as optimise its network and bases as a result of the pandemic.

“easyJet has today started formal consultation on proposals with employee representatives including Balpa and Unite on all of its UK based pilots and crew.

“The proposals include the potential closing of three of its bases in the UK – London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle. These airports would remain part of easyJet’s route network.”

EasyJet told how it won’t reach expected revenue levels post lockdown until 2023.

EasyJet currently has 163 aircraft in the UK at 11 airports, serving 546 routes and flying more than 52 million passengers a year.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet CEO, said: “These are very difficult proposals to put forward in what is an unprecedented and difficult time for the airline and the industry as a whole.

“We are focused on doing what is right for the company and its long term health and success so we can protect jobs going forward.

“Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people.”

Unfortunately the lower demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people

Brian Strutton, pilots union Balpa general secretary, said: “We know that aviation is in the midst of the covid-19 crisis and we had been expecting easyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery.

“But this seems an excessive over-reaction and easyJet won’t find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years. ”

Last November, easyJet acquired Thomas Cook’s slots at Gatwick and Bristol airports for £36million.

The aviation sector has been severely hit by coronavirus, with British Airways haemorrhaging £20million a day.

Bosses want to axe 12,000 staff and ‘fire and re-hire’ the remaining 36,000 staff on lower wages.

Meanwhile, The Sun understands Virgin Atlantic’s future is “bleak” as it emerged yesterday they can’t afford to pay staff for holidays.

Airline insiders admitted it is “touch and go” if Sir Richard Branson’s carrier will survive the coronavirus pandemic meltdown.

Staff were reeling last night after being told bosses will not top up monthly furlough salary payments with annual leave taken.

Virgin said: “Any annual leave you have accrued while on furlough leave is to be considered taken.”

Bosses went on: “When you return to work your remaining annual leave allowance will be your usual annual entitlement, minus any annual leave you have already taken this year, which includes annual leave accrued and taken during furlough leave.”

Rachel Clarke, head of people services at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, told staff: “We recognise this is a different approach to the government guidance, and we understand this is a big ask

“We’re asking for your help with annual leave, because unfortunately, as we strive to safeguard the future of the business, it’s just not affordable at this time.”

The airline is planning to re-start passenger flights from July 20.

Staff who get the boot from the airline after that date will receive redundancy in August on a contractural minimum of 28 days notice.
Around 8,000 Virgin workers were furloughed at the start of lockdown, with staff paid 80 per cent of their salaries up to £2,500 a month for three months.

The scheme has been extended until October but cash-strapped Virgin has to contribute to the scheme from September.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “Following the rapid acceleration of Covid-19 and extensive travel restrictions, coupled with a sharp drop in customer demand, it is imperative for Virgin Atlantic to take swift and decisive action to safeguard its future.

“Therefore, any annual leave our people have accrued while on furlough leave is to be considered taken. This equates to two days for every month of furlough leave.

“We’d like to thank all our people for their continued commitment and solidarity and the sacrifices they have made to support the company during the most challenging period in our history”.

In terms of a battle for survival, the airline added: “We continue to explore all available options to secure additional external funding as part of a comprehensive, solvent recapitalisation of the airline. As per the Chancellor’s letter of 24 March, HM Government is considered as a lender of last resort, and rightly so.

“We greatly appreciate the support our stakeholders have shown to date and believe we can deliver a comprehensive financing package that ensures Virgin Atlantic continues to provide essential connectivity and competition to consumers and businesses in Britain and beyond.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/11990915/easyjet-close-hubs-stansted-southend-newcastle/

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Dutch government KLM €3.4 billion rescue plan, with some conditions

The Dutch government has said the national airline, KLM, is set for a €3.4 billion bailout package, if it meets certain targets, but this still requires regulatory approval from Brussels, in case it conflicts with EU state-aid rules. KLM was promised between €2-4 billion at the end of April, when both the Dutch and French governments pledged financial support to the Air France-KLM group. France’s €7 billion bailout was quickly approved by the EC’s competition regulators. The €3.4 billion package would be made up of €2.4 billion in state-guaranteed bank loans and a €1 billion direct loan. The loan would be provided in tranches and last up until 2025, with each payment only made after the government has judged that conditions are being adequately fulfilled.  Senior staff who earn more than three times the average salary will have a 20% pay cut. Until the state’s investment is repaid in full, no dividends will be paid out to shareholders and management will not get bonuses. Cost-cutting measures worth 15% will have to be made. The number of night flights from Schiphol will be cut, but details are not yet decided.  KLM will also have to halve CO2 per passenger-kilometre by 2030, BUT there is no cap on KLM’s total CO2 emissions. 
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Dutch government unveils KLM rescue plan

By Sam Morgan |  EURACTIV.com

26-06-2020

The Netherlands’ national airline, KLM, is set for a €3.4 billion bailout package should it meet certain employment, financial and sustainability targets, the Dutch government announced on Friday (26 June). It still requires regulatory approval from Brussels.

KLM was promised between €2-4 billion at the end of April, when both the Dutch and French governments pledged financial support to the Air France-KLM group. France’s €7 billion bailout was quickly approved by the European Commission’s competition regulators.

But the Dutch government embarked on tough negotiations, as lawmakers were in disagreement about what kind of conditions to set for the airline.

The Dutch government’s proposed €2-4 billion aid package for national airline KLM was debated in parliament on Wednesday (6 May), but lawmakers are still divided over what strings – if any – to attach to the bailout.

On Friday morning, ministers revealed a €3.4 billion package made up of €2.4 billion in state-guaranteed bank loans and a €1 billion direct loan.

The latter will be provided in tranches and last up until 2025, with each payment only dispersed after the government has judged that its conditions are being adequately fulfilled.

“This package is necessary to ensure that KLM and Air France can continue to fulfil the important role they play in our economies,” said Minister for Finance Wopke Hoekstra, who also warned that job losses will nevertheless “likely be unavoidable”.

“We have been trying to distribute the pain as fairly as possible in recent weeks,” the minister added. As part of the deal, senior staff that earn more than three times the average will be asked to forego 20% of their salary.

Until the state’s investment is repaid in full, no dividends will be paid out to shareholders and management will not be eligible for bonuses. Cost-cutting measures worth 15% will also have to be made.

KLM CEO Pieter Elbes said “this is a very important step and I express my gratitude on behalf of all KLM colleagues to the Dutch state and the banks for their confidence in our organisation and our future.”

The government also made it clear in its announcement that it expects KLM and Air France to both undergo restructuring.

The French government’s €7 billion bailout of its flag-carrier and its insistence on reducing short-haul domestic flights should not be seen as an opportunity for low-cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet, Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday (22 June).

Strings attached

The €3.4 billion rescue deal is dependent on KLM making changes to the way it does business, including reducing the number of night flights from the country’s main hub at Schiphol.

However, in a letter to parliament, government ministers do not establish a timeframe for the reduction of night flights, although it does elaborate that it will be a stepped approach to cull them from 32,000 to 25,000.

Making those cuts will be dependent on the use of a nearby airport as a spillover hub and more substitutions of flights with train journeys to cities like Brussels and Dusseldorf, the letter adds.

KLM will also have to cut CO2 per passenger-kilometre in half by 2030 under the agreement, although using such a metric could allow for emissions to actually increase as it does not cap total output.

The Austrian government’s €600 million bailout of its national airline has been praised for establishing tighter green goals, which also includes a ticket price floor.

Schiphol airport is one of the busiest hubs in Europe and a major generator of employment. As part of the agreement, the government is extending its termination notice period from nine months to five years, in order to reduce any uncertainty about its hub-status.

There is little of substance in the agreement about passenger rights and whether KLM should spend the money on refunding passengers that request reimbursement. However, the Dutch government recently confirmed it would tell its regulator to start enforcing EU rules after previously ignoring them.

The green compromise in the Austrian Airlines bailout

After weeks of negotiations, it is now set: Austrian Airlines (AUA) is saved from insolvency by the Black-Green government. For the Greens, who are in a governing coalition in Austria for the first time, it was a difficult litmus test. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Desperately seeking Brussels’ approval

The Dutch government made a pre-notification to the Commission in order to assess whether its package would flout state aid rules. A full notification was made to the competition regulator earlier on Friday.

On Thursday (25 June), the EU executive gave the green light to Lufthansa’s €9 billion bailout after a lengthy assessment and negotiation period. The KLM package is likely to have an easier time, as the Dutch state is already a shareholder in the firm.

Both France and the Netherlands own 14% of the airline group, while the German government will come on board as its flag-carrier’s largest shareholder with 20%. That development was one of the main factors to trigger Commission concerns.

The virus outbreak’s devastating impact on the aviation industry has prompted governments to shell out more than €30 billion in aid so far.

https://www.euractiv.com/section/aviation/news/the-green-compromise-in-the-austrian-airines-bailout/ 

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See also

 

France to ban commercial flights on shortest domestic routes

France plans to ban commercial air travel on the country’s shortest domestic routes in a bid to prevent low-cost carriers picking up links Air France-KLM is being forced to abandon as part of the terms of a Government bailout package. The aim of stopping Air France from flying domestic routes, if the trip can be made by train in under 2.5 hours, to cut CO2 emissions, is not to allow in other airlines instead. Austria has also placed constraints on short-haul flights, as part of a state-funding plan for Deutsche Lufthansa. The domestic flights ban would include about 40% of internal French flights. The carbon reductions achieved by this would actually be tiny – about 6-7% of Air France’s total. Ryanair plans to operate 6 French domestic routes this summer, but says they are on longer routes, not included in the ban. Air France-KLM received €7 billion in loans and guarantees from the French government, and the Minister said the airline would be required to become “the most environmentally friendly airline on the planet”. However, the overall bail-out package is flawed, and is unlikely to produce the desired, necessary, reductions in Air France’s CO2 emissions.

Click here to view full story…

Air France must cut CO2 emissions, and domestic flights as condition of state aid: says France’s Finance Minister

France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, has told Air France that it will have to cut its carbon emissions and domestic flights, as conditions for government financial support.  The French government has offered the airline a €7 billion package of state-guaranteed bank loans, and loans directly from the state. This is on condition that the airline map out a path to profitability and set the goal of “becoming the most environmentally friendly carrier in the world.” [Whatever that means]. Air France will have to halve its CO2 emissions per passenger, and per kilometre – compared to their 2005 level – by 2030.  The CO2 emissions from domestic flights in France will have to be halved, and that means cutting the numbers drastically.  Another condition is that 2% of the fuel used by its planes would have to be derived from alternative, sustainable sources by 2025. [Problem is there are almost no properly environmentally “sustainable” fuels, and pushing for them is likely to increase deforestation and loss of land for food growing, and for wildlife]. Air France also have to buy new planes, with lower CO2 emissions, from Airbus.

Click here to view full story…

 

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Still unknown if Bristol airport will appeal against expansion refusal – they have to decide by 19th September

Bristol Airport has not yet decided whether to appeal against a decision to refuse its expansion plans. North Somerset Planning and Regulatory committee councillors went against the council officers’ recommendation earlier this year, to reject the expansion plans which would have allowed the airport to increase its current capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year. The councillors ruled that environmental and societal impacts outweighed the economic benefits of the expansion. The airport has 6 months in which to appeal, and that time ends of 19th September 2020. A spokesman for the airport said a decision on whether to lodge an appeal had yet to be made and was still under review. The decline in air travel demand will be a factor in the decision. The costs of a public inquiry could run into tens of thousands of pounds for North Somerset Council. It has confirmed it will defend any appeal but said it was unable to comment on any potential costs. It would be for the Planning Inspector who is overseeing the case to decide what costs and conditions to impose on North Somerset Council, if it loses. 
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Update on whether Bristol Airport plans to appeal expansion refusal

Airport bosses have until mid September to lodge an appeal

By Heather Pickstock – North Somerset reporter (Bristol Live)
26 JUN 2020

Bosses at Bristol Airport say no decision has yet been made on whether to appeal against a decision to refuse its expansion plans.

North Somerset Planning and Regulatory committee went against their own officers’ recommendation earlier this year to reject the expansion plans which would have allowed the airport to increase its current capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year.

During the debate – which lasted four and a half hours – councillors ruled the environmental and societal impacts outweighed the economic benefits of the expansion.

The decision then had to go back to the same committee for ratification, with the airport given six months to appeal.

The cut off date for the airport to submit an appeal is September 19, it has been revealed.

A spokesman for the airport said a decision on whether to lodge an appeal had yet to be made and was still under review.

A Bristol Airport spokesman said:”The decision risks putting the brakes on the region’s economy and shutting the door to international trade and tourism at a time when the UK needs to show it is open for business.By preventing Bristol Airport from meeting demand for air travel from within the region it serves, the council will simply exacerbate the situation which already sees millions of passengers a year from our region drive to London airports in order to fly, creating carbon emissions and congestion in the process.

“We are reviewing North Somerset Council’s reasons for refusing the planning application and will make a decision on our next steps.

The costs of a public inquiry could run into tens of thousands of pounds for North Somerset Council.

The authority has confirmed it will defend any appeal but said it was unable to comment on any potential costs.

The appeal system operates on the basis that all sides meet their own expenses. The costs incurred by the council depend on the nature on the grounds of appeal, the amount of evidence the council needs to prepare, the length of the appeal and legal fees which would be incurred.

Appeals can be a very costly process for councils especially if the planning inspector decides to uphold the appeal and overturn the council’s decision to refuse.

It would be for the Planning Inspector who is overseeing the case to decide what costs and conditions to impose on North Somerset Council if they disagree with its decision.

There is also a danger if the decision is overturned that North Somerset Council loses its powers to enforce any conditions on the applicant when it comes to the development.

A planning inquiry for an application of this size could take several weeks with witnesses and experts called to give evidence for both sides.

There is a chance the Secretary of State may decide he wants to have the final say in the decision.

If this is the case the planning inquiry will still go ahead but the planning inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State and the final decision will then be in his hands.

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/update-whether-bristol-airport-plans-4262362

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see earlier:

 

Bath and North East Somerset Council rejects Bristol Airport application to increase night flights in summer months

Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected an application by Bristol Airport to increase the number of night flights. The airport wants to increase the number of night flights to 4,000 throughout the whole year, starting in summer 2021. Currently the airport is allowed 3,000 night flights throughout the summer months and 1,000 in winter. The airport wants to be able to move some of their winter allocation to the summer, when demand is higher. Bath and North East Somerset Council rejected the application – stating it would have a negative impact on people living in towns near the airport. The request for more flights comes after the council opposed the expansion of Bristol Airport in March 2019. Then in March 2020 North Somerset Council threw out the plans, (which included increasing passenger numbers by an extra two million each year and building more car parks) on the grounds they were “incompatible” with the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.  The extra night flights would cause noise nuisance to people in both councils.

Click here to view full story…

Bristol Airport expansion plans rejected by North Somerset council by 18-7

North Somerset Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee has gone against the advice of their own planning officers and have refused permission for Bristol Airport to expand. It has been a “David versus Goliath” battle of local campaigners against the airport, (owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The airport wanted to expand from 10 million to 12 million passengers per year, with large carpark and other building. The opposition to the plans was huge, on ground of carbon emissions, as well as noise and general local damage. There were almost 9,000 objections sent in by members of the public, against 2,400 in favour.  Councillors voted 18-7 against the plans, with one abstention. Councillors were persuaded that paltry economic benefits to the airport and airlines were far outweighed by the environmental harm. There would be large land take for the parking, and the extra carbon emissions would make targets of carbon neutrality for the area unachievable. Because the councillors went against the officers’ recommendations, the decision will return to the same committee to be ratified. If the decision is ratified, the applicant has six months to lodge an appeal, which would be heard at a public inquiry.

Click here to view full story…

Plans to expand Bristol Airport accused of being flawed; decision put off till early 2020

A decision on Bristol Airport’s major expansion bid will not be made this year. They submitted proposals to boost passenger numbers from 10 million to 12 million a year by the mid-2020s, and to expand the airport’s on-site infrastructure.  A decision had been due over the summer but people are continuing to comment – there are currently about 3,780 objections and 1,800 letters of support.  Reasons for opposing the expansion include climate change, traffic levels, air pollution and noise.  When they declared a “climate emergency”, Bath and North East Somerset Council members also voted to oppose the airport’s expansion, amid concerns about increased congestion on rural roads in their area. There is also doubt about alleged economic benefit.  The airport and its supporters always talk up the possibility of more jobs, and improved “access international export markets.” In reality, the majority of air passengers are on leisure journeys.  The application will be considered by North Somerset Council’s planning and regulatory committee meeting in 2020, with possible dates the 22 January, 19 February and 18 March.

Click here to view full story…

Read more »

Committee on Climate Change progress report to government – aviation mentions

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published their progress report, for 2020, on the UK government’s efforts on reducing CO2 emissions. It has a lot to say on aviation – far more than in its 2019 progress report. They say that iInternational aviation and shipping (IAS) should be formally included in UK climate targets, in the carbon budgets,  when the Sixth Carbon Budget is set, and net-zero plans should be developed. This has been a key demand, from environmental experts. At present aviation emissions are just taken account of. The CCC say that aviation accounts of 8% of the UK’s CO2 emissions (a briefing note in Feb 2020 for Parliament said it was 7% in 2019). The CCC also say that the UK’s airport capacity strategy should be reviewed in light of the country’s net-zero target.  Due to the dramatic impact of Covid on the aviation sector, the CCC say a household & business survey is needed,  of long-term travel expectations of the pandemic. They add that action is also needed on non-CO₂ warming effects from aviation, which probably account for double the climate impact of the CO2 alone, emitted at altitude. They say ICAO’s CORSIA scheme should be strengthened.
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These are copies of the text from the reports, where the word “aviation” is mentioned.

From the CCC’s

Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament

25.6.2020  (The Committee on Climate Change)

at

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Reducing-UK-emissions-Progress-Report-to-Parliament-Committee-on-Cli.._-002-1.pdf

Extracts:

 

International aviation and shipping should be formally included in UK climate targets when the Sixth Carbon Budget is set, and net-zero plans should be developed.

Aviation (8% of 2019 emissions). A policy framework is needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, including demand-side measures, efficiency and low-carbon fuels, with residual emissions offset by verifiable removals.

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The UK’s airport capacity strategy should be reviewed in light of the net-zero target. Action is also needed on non-CO₂ warming effects from aviation.

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Aviation and Shipping:

• Formally include International Aviation and Shipping emissions within UK climate targets when setting the Sixth Carbon Budget. •

Work with ICAO to set a long-term goal for aviation consistent with the Paris Agreement, and to strengthen the CORSIA scheme.

• Continue working with the IMO on global shipping policies, and updating their 2050 target. •

Commit to a Net Zero goal for UK aviation as part of the forthcoming aviation consultation and strategy, with UK international aviation reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and domestic aviation potentially earlier. Plan for residual emissions, after efficiency, low-carbon fuels and demand-side measures, to be offset by verifiable greenhouse gas removals.

• Build on the Clean Maritime Plan to develop incentives for zero-carbon ammonia and hydrogen supply chains for UK shipping.

• Monitor non-CO impacts of aviation and shipping and consider how best to tackle them alongside UK climate targets.

• Review the UK’s airport capacity strategy in light of COVID-19 and Net Zero, including a household & business survey of long-term travel expectations.

p38

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The Sixth Carbon Budget period covers 2033-2037. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are shown on a total (‘actual’) basis, while carbon budgets are assessed against the ‘net carbon account’ (Box 2.3). Emissions from International Aviation and Shipping (IAS) are not included in this figure, but would either also need to reach zero emissions by 2050 or will have to be fully offset by verifiable removals.

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Early 20s

Emissions removed from the atmosphere by trees, soils or engineered carbon removal to offset residual emissions in sectors where low-carbon alternatives are limited (predominantly aviation and agriculture – Figure 1.2).

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Mid 20s

Emissions removed from the atmosphere by trees, soils or engineered carbon removal to offset residual emissions in sectors where low-carbon alternatives are limited (predominantly aviation and agriculture – Figure 1.2).

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Greenhouse gas removals, second half of the 20s

Initial deployment of engineered greenhouse gas removals (e.g. BECCS in power generation, hydrogen production, industry and/or aviation fuel production), driven by incentives and enabled by CO₂ infrastructure development.

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  1. v) Aviation Aviation emissions fell in 2009 and 2010 after the financial crisis, then stayed relatively flat in the early 2010s, but have been rising again in recent years. UK aviation emissions in 2018 were therefore the same as in 2008, as falls in domestic and military aviation emissions have been balanced by a rise in UK international aviation emissions. Over the same 2008-2018 period, the total number of UK terminal passengers rose by 24% to reach 292 million in 2018, with a further 2% increase seen in 2019

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More broadly, low-carbon policy costs are not balanced across the economy – some sectors, such as aviation and shipping, may have to pass a greater degree of decarbonisation costs onto their end customers. International competitiveness in these sectors provides an additional challenge.

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Emissions from international aviation & shipping in 2019 are assumed to be equal to the final BEIS estimates for 2018.

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Aviation. Total aviation emissions increased by 0.8% from 2017 levels to 39.3 MtCO₂e in 2018. Within this, emissions from international flights increased by 1.1% to 36.7 Mt, emissions from domestic flights fell by 5.9% to 1.5 Mt, and emissions from military aviation fell 0.6% to 1.1 Mt. Overall, emissions from domestic and international aviation in 2018 were 124% above 1990 levels.

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viii) Aviation There are currently no indicators established for aviation, and last year no policy milestones were set by the Committee for 2019-20.

However, there have been a number of UK developments:

The ‘Future of Flight Challenge’ was announced in August 2019. Funding of £125 million will be provided via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund with £175 million from industry, to develop new aircraft technology including electrification.117

  • DfT’s Aviation & Climate Change Consultation was due out in early 2020, but is currently delayed due to COVID-19. A final Aviation Strategy is due to follow. • In February 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) underpinning expansion at Heathrow airport unlawful due to a failure to consider the Paris Agreement, non-CO₂ impacts and emissions after 2050. This verdict is being appealed in the Supreme Court. Indicators for aviation will be developed following our advice on the Sixth Carbon Budget later this year. (December)

 

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Via the Sustainable Aviation grouping, the UK’s aviation sector has committed to achieving net-zero CO₂ emissions by 2050. Their roadmap has high demand growth mitigated by large improvements in efficiency, uptake of sustainable aviation fuels and significant use of market based measures (offsets and removals).135

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The proposed UK ETS covers emissions from the power sector, large industrial facilities, domestic aviation and flights to Europe. In principle the scope of the scheme could be extended to include nearly all UK GHG emissions. 

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Though decarbonising aviation and shipping are longer-term priorities, action now is required. The Government should:

• Continue to work via the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to reduce International Aviation and Shipping (IAS) emissions, setting ambitious long-term goals and developing robust mechanisms to achieve these.

• Formally include IAS emissions within the UK’s climate targets as set out in our September 2019 letter.20 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Grant-Shapps-IAS.pdf

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Our Sixth Carbon Budget advice will again consider and make recommendations as to the inclusion of IAS emissions within UK Carbon Budgets.

  • Building on the UK’s Clean Maritime Plan, develop incentives for new low-carbon ammonia and hydrogen supply chains and accompanying port infrastructure, with the UK’s first clean maritime cluster built by 2030.
  • • Commit to an ambitious Net Zero goal for UK aviation in the forthcoming Aviation & Climate Change Consultation, with UK international aviation reaching net-zero by 2050, and domestic aviation potentially before 2050. Efficiency and low-carbon fuel measures should be supported, with demand-side policies also introduced to ensure emissions stay on track to net-zero given the availability of verifiable GHG removals.
  • • Monitor non-CO2 impacts of aviation and shipping and consider how best to tackle them alongside UK climate targets.
  • • Review the UK’s airport capacity strategy in light of COVID-19 and the Net Zero transition. This should include a survey of UK households, businesses and public-sector organisations to gauge how leisure and business travel expectations have changed post-COVID, and the likely permanence of these changes.

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9 December 2020

Advice on the Sixth Carbon Budget

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will publish its recommendation on the level of the Sixth Carbon Budget in December 2020. The Sixth Carbon Budget, required under the Climate Change Act, will provide ministers with advice on the volume of greenhouse gases the UK can emit during the period 2033-2037.

It will set the path to the UK’s new net-zero emissions target in 2050, as the first carbon budget to be set into law following that commitment

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From the CCC’s 

Reducing UK emissions 2019 Progress Report to Parliament

July 2019

at

https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/CCC-2019-Progress-in-reducing-UK-emissions.pdf

 

2019 report

Emissions across the economy (including international aviation and shipping) fell 40% from 1990 to 2018. Over the same period, the UK economy grew by 75%. In 2018 emissions fell 2% and the economy grew by 1%. This record of growing the economy and cutting emissions provides a powerful international example that can help encourage others to increase their own ambition.

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priorities for 2020

Formal inclusion in Climate Change Act targets

 

2 Formally, international aviation and shipping are not included in the carbon budgets. However, the budgets are set lower in order to leave ‘headroom’ for these emissions, consistent with their eventual inclusion in the 2050 target.

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6 Emissions for non-CO2 emissions, and international aviation and shipping (IAS) is only available for 2017. The 2018 non-CO2 emissions have been estimated by adjusting the 2017 non-CO2 emissions total in the 1990-2017 greenhouse gas inventory in proportion to the percentage difference between the estimates for the 2017 and 2018 non-CO2 emissions in the most recent Energy and Emissions Projections published by BEIS. Emissions from IAS are assumed to be the same as in 2017.

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Aviation. Total aviation emissions increased by 3.5% to 36.5 MtCO₂e from 2016 to 2017, the latest year for which data is available. Within this, emissions from international flights increased by 3.6% to 35.0 Mt and emissions from domestic flights by 2.6% to 1.5 Mt. Overall, emissions from aviation in 2017 were more than double 1990 levels.

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Carbon markets. The UK was an advocate for strong rules on ‘additionality’ and ‘no double counting’ in the eligibility guidelines for the CORSIA offsetting scheme for the aviation industry, published in March 2019. The UK should continue to support the highest possible standards for market-based mechanisms under the Paris Agreement at COP25 and beyond.

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The Government launched a consultation in December 2018 on its long-term vision for aviation. Within this, it accepted the Committee’s long-standing planning assumption that for an economy-wide target of an 80% emissions reduction, aviation emissions in 2050 should be no higher than those in 2005 (i.e. 37.5 MtCO₂e). However, the final Aviation Strategy has not yet been published and the Government has not set out the implications of limiting emissions for aviation demand.

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Publish a plan to limit UK aviation emissions to the level assumed when the fifth carbon budget was set (i.e. around 2005 levels in 2050, implying around a 60% potential increase in demand), supported by strong international policies.

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France to ban commercial flights on shortest domestic routes

France plans to ban commercial air travel on the country’s shortest domestic routes in a bid to prevent low-cost carriers picking up links Air France-KLM is being forced to abandon as part of the terms of a Government bailout package. The aim of stopping Air France from flying domestic routes, if the trip can be made by train in under 2.5 hours, to cut CO2 emissions, is not to allow in other airlines instead. Austria has also placed constraints on short-haul flights, as part of a state-funding plan for Deutsche Lufthansa. The domestic flights ban would include about 40% of internal French flights. The carbon reductions achieved by this would actually be tiny – about 6-7% of Air France’s total. Ryanair plans to operate 6 French domestic routes this summer, but says they are on longer routes, not included in the ban. Air France-KLM received €7 billion in loans and guarantees from the French government, and the Minister said the airline would be required to become “the most environmentally friendly airline on the planet”. However, the overall bail-out package is flawed, and is unlikely to produce the desired, necessary, reductions in Air France’s CO2 emissions.
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France to ban commercial flights on shortest domestic routes

Bid to  prevent low-cost carriers picking up links Air France is being forced to abandon

24.6.2020

France plans to ban commercial air travel on the country’s shortest domestic routes in a bid to prevent low-cost carriers picking up links Air France is being forced to abandon as part of the terms of a bailout package.

“If we are asking things of Air France, it’s not so that low-cost companies can come along and start their own service,” French environment minister Elisabeth Borne said Monday on RMC radio. Ryanair and EasyJet already operate services in France.

The minister’s comments highlight the potential ripple effects of environmental strings attached to the bailout of Air France-KLM, which could reshape domestic air travel.

The policies would put France in the same camp as Austria, which has also placed constraints on short-haul air travel as part of a state-funding plan for the local unit of Deutsche Lufthansa.

“We have asked Air France to accelerate its environmental transition,” Borne said, adding that this includes a “drastic reduction” in the number of flights where there is an alternative rail link of less than 2 1/2 hours.

Ryanair plans to operate six French domestic routes in the summer of 2020, but none will be impacted by the conditions set out in this decree, the Irish carrier said in a statement.

Air France-KLM received €7 billion ($7.9 billion) in loans and guarantees from the French government in exchange for agreeing to curb domestic flights by 40 per cent.

While this would include pulling some short-haul flights that operate through Orly airport, the company is expected to be able to keep services through its Paris-Charles de Gaulle hub that feed into long-haul destinations.

Citing figures from the Climate Action Network, Greenpeace France has said the measures aren’t ambitious enough because they would cut carbon emissions by just 6.6 per cent.

Borne said she favours following Austria, which has proposed imposing rules on plane-ticket prices, calling €1 and even €15 tickets “shocking” and saying she backs “in principle” minimum prices.

Austria will impose an additional ticket fee of €30 for short-haul flights below 350 kilometres and has said prices can’t be below taxes and fees, with a minimum price of about €40. – Bloomberg

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/france-to-ban-commercial-flights-on-shortest-domestic-routes-1.4286223

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Airline bailouts – Has Air France been tied down by ‘green strings’?

20TH MAY, 2020 ·

By Calum Harvey-Scholes,  (University of Exeter)

Covid-19 has spread rapidly around the world, partly due to busy international transport connections. Attempts to suppress its transmission and save lives have precipitated a sudden and acute economic crisis. Lockdown measures imposed to limit the spread of the virus have resulted in a rapid contraction of flights (around 5% of services are running) and many airlines have suggested that they expect it to be three to five years or more before they fully recover – with some believing it may never fully recover. This has resulted in airlines around the world calling for multi-billion dollar bailouts.

Given the substantial carbon impact of air travel, many academics, organisations and individuals have called for Government bailouts to be tied to reducing carbon emissions (among other conditions). Many have highlighted the French Government’s €7 billion bailout of Air France, which was announced along with conditions for the airline to increase profitability as well as cut carbon emission, as a leading example. The French Economy and Finance Minister declared that Air France would be required to become “the most environmentally friendly airline on the planet”. This is a welcome aspiration given that aviation is around twice as carbon intensive as any other form of transport, and there is no viable prospect of decarbonising commercial flights within the next decade or two (with the possible exception of the smallest and shortest-range aircraft) – Indeed, in the midst of this crisis Rolls-Royce and Airbus have ended their R&D collaboration exploring hybrid electric aircraft propulsion. This blog examines the ‘green strings’ attached to Air France’s bailout agreement and reflects on how effective these policy measures are likely to be in reducing carbon emissions.

The French government, already a major shareholder in Air France, announced the airline’s bailout on television[1] with three clear concrete conditions, but it was emphasised that the plan as a whole was yet to be finalised – which makes this a valuable time to reflect on what has been stated and how it might be improved. These conditions are:

Halving overall emissions from domestic flights by 2024 (with suggestions of restricting flights on routes where there is a viable train alternative)

A target of sourcing 2% of its fuel from ‘sustainable sources’ by 2025

A 50% reduction in carbon intensity (kg CO2/passenger-km) by 2030 over 2005 levels.

Halving overall emissions from domestic flights by 2024

Reducing emissions from domestic flights (~10% of Air France’s total emissions) is a good idea: because emissions are disproportionately high during take-off and landing, short-haul flights emit more CO2 per kilometre travelled. Furthermore, short distance journeys are most likely to be easily transferred to rail. It has been suggested by the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, that routes where the journey by train is 2.5 hours or less should be minimised. Limiting short-haul flights (e.g. no flights less than 400km, or by alternative travel time) could be an effective policy contributing to achieving the emissions reduction target: it is simple, clear and cost-effective. It could also reduce the unfair competition between planes, which benefit from tax-free fuel and often subsidised airports, and trains.

There are, however, limitations to how the policy is proposed. Firstly, the emissions reduction target (and possible restriction of competition with trains) is only being applied to one airline. Without further restrictions, other carriers could simply pick up and serve the vacated routes. Secondly, cutting domestic flights means that Air France will have spare take-off slots from strategic airports, such as Charles de Gaulle in Paris. These slots could potentially be used to run more medium and long-haul flights which are both more profitable and emit more carbon per flight due to the longer travel distance. Finally, it appears that these plans are an acceleration of a planned restructuring from Air France. Their domestic carrier ‘Hop!’ posted a €200 million loss in 2019 and, as outlined above, longer distance flights are generally more profitable. In short the effectiveness of the new policy is limited in its application to only one airline and only to their domestic flights. It is not at all clear that this measure will lead to a reduction in Air France’s total carbon emissions.

A target of sourcing 2% of its fuel from ‘sustainable sources’ by 2025

Substituting fossil kerosene for ‘sustainable’ fuel is one of the aviation industry’s preferred methods for cutting carbon emissions. These fuels are either derived from oil crops, such as palm oil, or from synthetic hydrocarbons. All new fuels are in the early stages of commercial development and synthetic hydrocarbons require a large amount of electricity to produce. Given that most electricity is still generated by fossil fuels, the emissions-reduction potential of alternative fuels is questionable. This leaves us still better off using fossil kerosene in the short term; although exploring sustainable fuels’ viability may be useful over time.

Alternatively, a limited range of biofuels are viable for use when mixed with fossil kerosene. However, relying on food crops brings risks of food-fuel conflict as well as additional emissions from land use change as rainforest is clear-felled to plant biofuel crops. The cheapest and most easily-processed feedstock for bio-kerosene is palm oil; already a leading driver of deforestation globally that is partly driven by demand for biodiesel. Some EU and other research has suggested that the life cycle emissions of some biofuels are higher than the fossil fuels they displace.

Aside from sustainability concerns, the production of alternative fuels is extremely limited at present. Dan Rutherford has calculated that 2% of Air France’s 2018 fuel consumption amounts to 55 million litres, which is 10 times global use of bio-kerosene in the same year. Considering that many airlines have adopted similar targets, sourcing this amount of bio-kerosene is a challenging goal for Air France.

Finally, fuels burnt at altitude in jet engines have roughly twice the planet heating effect compared with fuels burnt at ground level. Whilst alternative fuels could reduce consumption of fossil fuels, there is not yet clear evidence that the additional heating effect due to altitude is reduced by using alternative fuels rather than fossil kerosene. Therefore, biofuel-based aviation would still have a heating effect on our climate.

A 50% reduction in carbon intensity (kg CO2/passenger-km) by 2030 over 2005 levels.
Reducing the carbon intensity of aviation is a useful target which will cut fuel use, costs, and carbon emissions per passenger-km travelled. Improvements can be made across aeroplane and engine design, traffic management, and weight reductions. The announcement of a 50% reduction by 2030 is extremely ambitious given that annual improvements have historically been 1-2% per annum. So how can Air France make such rapid improvements?

Further research into the detail of this commitment reveals that this is a reaffirmation of a commitment the airline made at the end of 2019 as part of their Air France Horizon 2030 initiative. Interestingly, the 50% reduction is not from current levels but is compared to 2005 levels – an apparently arbitrary baseline. It will reduce the fuel burned per passenger-km to <3 litres. According to their most recent sustainability update, Air France burn 3.3 litres of fuel per passenger-km. Therefore, to achieve their target reductions they need improve efficiency by around 10% from current levels, or 1% every year until 2030 – which is in line with the historical rate of improvement. This realistic 10% efficiency gain appears to have been framed as a more radical 50% improvement by adopting the otherwise arbitrary baseline of 2005. In fact this condition appears to be a reaffirmation to continue business-as-usual improvements in efficiency, no faster than any other airline.

In this light, the ‘green strings’ attached to the Air France bailout appear to be narrowly focused commitments that recycle pre-existing targets using elaborately selective framing, rather than a clear plan to step up action towards meaningful carbon reduction.

Towards policy to cut emissions
Looking forwards, in order to develop policy with a fighting chance of reducing emissions from aviation we must apply a wider, strategic lens. Fundamentally, the approach must be holistic rather than bit-part; applying to the whole aviation industry, incorporating all emissions, and treating aviation fairly with the rest of the economy. This approach requires several points of focus: the scale and coordination of policy-making; a focus on total emissions; and a reformed tax regime.

Policy scale and coordination

The appropriate scale at which to implement aviation policy is problematic. Currently, responsibility for cutting emissions from aviation has been almost entirely ceded to the UN ICAO. This approach is justified by the need for a coordinated response and to avoid risks from unilateral national action such as ‘carbon leakage’ as traffic diverts away from nations with stricter policies. For example, a tax on kerosene in the UK could merely encourage services to switch to Amsterdam or Paris for tax-free fuel. While a coordinated, international approach to policy is therefore preferable, ceding this responsibility to the ICAO is problematic. The organisation lacks transparency, has very limited powers of enforcement, and has demonstrated low climate ambition so far. This rock and hard place problem is part of why there has been so little progress in limiting aviation emissions. However, we are seeing airlines bailed out by national governments around the world, reminding us that national level governance can play a role in the aviation sector. International co-ordination is undoubtedly needed, but this must be through a new mechanism if we are to reduce emissions from aviation.

Given the unexpected and rapid impacts of Covid-19, in this case it is easy to see why the measures for Air France have been applied ad hoc to one airline. However, future governmental involvement in airline environmental policy would benefit from application to all airlines, both in order to ensure fairness and increase the likelihood of reducing emissions. Covid-19 perhaps presents an opportunity to join up action: airlines are struggling globally, with many likely to be in need of assistance before this crisis is over. For example, British Airways’ owner IAG has received a £300 million loan from the UK Government, even after BA opposed airline bailouts. Airlines around the world have received emergency support from government suggesting that an industry-wide framework could be practicable.

Total emissions

The rise in global temperatures relates to the total volume of fossil carbon we emit, and the Paris Climate Accord requires economy-wide emissions reductions. Carbon offsets do not reduce direct carbon emissions from aircraft. Regulation must focus on capping and reducing total emissions. A primary criterion limiting total emissions, either by airline or nationally, would also motivate airlines to improve efficiency so they can offer more services within their stipulated carbon budget. Such an approach contrasts with the focus above on efficiency improvements (reduced carbon intensity). Focusing on the emissions per passenger-kilometre alone does not encourage (much less require) a reduction in total carbon emissions. For example, Ryanair claim to be the most efficient airline in Europe, whilst also being the most polluting.

In many countries, such as the UK and France, aviation also remains excluded from national carbon budgets which apply to every other sector apart from shipping. Aviation should be incorporated into these national frameworks. As we reorient our economies onto a path to zero carbon, ensuring a fair contribution to decarbonisation from all sectors is important. This is particularly significant for air travel which disproportionately serves wealthier people – the wealthiest 10% consume around 75% of air travel globally.

Tax

The aviation industry continues to enjoy exceptional tax status in a number of ways. For instance, around the world petroleum products carry both excise duty and VAT, which together often constitute a large proportion of the final fuel cost, kerosene for aviation is exempt on both counts. This makes air travel artificially cheap compared to trains and sometimes even driving. There is a misconception that there is an international agreement which prohibits any tax on kerosene – there is no such prohibition in any agreement. A tax on kerosene is both legally possible, fair and could reduce emissions.

Conclusion

Under current arrangements the French State has placed itself in a dilemma: they have binding CO2 reduction targets and have stated that they want Air France to lead the world in sustainability; at the same time le Maire has emphasised that the airline must improve its profitability, in order to repay the bailout loans. However, the analysis here indicates that the best way for the airline to become more profitable is to shift towards more medium- and long-haul flights and in doing so increase its overall emissions. This in no way represents the green recovery the French Government has mooted.

If the goal is a long-term strategy for decarbonisation, a case could be made for a sector-level Covid-19 recovery package. A package which supports workers and maintains jobs, in exchange for a comprehensive new framework working towards cutting carbon emissions from aviation. One substantive initial move would be to include aviation in national climate targets. Another broader approach, termed ‘Cap and Adapt’, has been proposed as an economy-wide model that could equally well be applied to a particular sector. The basic premise is that you cap the total volume of fossil fuel available at current levels, in parallel introducing policy and money to support the transformation of the energy system to renewable sources and, where needed, the reskilling and redeployment of workers.

We are currently in an exceptional moment in history, where the economy has all but stopped. This has already been met with imaginative policy responses, such as the job retention schemes devised and deployed rapidly around the world. Global governments need to do much more to recognise that creative policy to alleviate the Covid-19 crisis could simultaneously set the course for industries like aviation towards a future compatible with the net zero 2050 economy.

[1] What we know of the conditions is based on a live television announcement and so it is not always possible to discern hard conditions from suggestions.

http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/energy/2020/05/20/airline-bailouts-has-air-france-been-tied-down-by-green-strings/

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Aviation industry decision to weaken CORSIA climate plan could break ICAO’s own rules

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Aviation Industry Decision to Weaken Climate Plan Could Break Own Rules

Countries attending the UN’s aviation body meeting this week look set to weaken the only international policy to address the climate impact of aircraft. But the way the decision is being made could be in violation of the organisation’s own rules.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has for decades been responsible for addressing the rising climate impact of international aviation, and agreed the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) in 2016.

The scheme has been widely criticised for likely delivering only “modest” emissions reduction, and could now be weakened further, as ICAO is expected by this Friday to decide on a change to the baseline of CORSIA, lowering the level of emissions reductions airlines would have to aim for.

But the ability of the ICAO’s Council to legitimately make this decision has been called into question, as the organisation continues to be criticised for its opaque practices.

Legitimacy

ICAO plans to change the baseline to only 2019 emissions levels, rather than an average of 2019 and 2020 levels. That means the baseline will be far higher, owing to the huge drop in aviation emissions in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines will therefore be able to emit far more before the scheme’s obligations to offset emissions growth past this baseline come into practise.

Under most post-COVID growth scenarios, changing the baseline would delay CORSIA‘s start for three to five years, according to an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which argues this could effectively eliminate airline offsetting obligations until 2028 or later. A separate analysis by the Oeko Institute found changing the baseline could reduce the overall mitigation achieved through CORSIA by 25 to 75 percent.

But there are questions about the legitimacy of the 36-country ICAO Council taking a decision that would undermine its main climate policy for several years.

Big changes to CORSIA are supposed to only be decided at the larger, 193-strong, ICAO Assembly, which usually takes place every three years. The next Assembly is not due until 2022.

Technically speaking, the Council does not formally take decisions which can change CORSIA, they just recommend things to the Assembly,” says Gilles Dufrasne, senior policy officer at Carbon Market Watch. “Since the establishment of CORSIA was through an Assembly resolution, the Council (a lower level body) cannot change it.”

The discussion of the baseline change at the ongoing Council session was initially prompted by a request from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) lobby group. It asked for the baseline to be changed and said that ICAO should make the decision to do this by 30 June 2020.

This demonstrates the power of the lobby group within the Council, says Chris Lyle, an international aviation consultant who worked at ICAO for almost 30 years.

ICAO‘s job is to protect and promote aviation, and IATA tells ICAO what to do: in essence, that’s what happens,” he says. “IATA has asked for the base year to be brought to 2019 for obvious reasons. Because including 2020, they’d really have to start buying a lot of offsets.”

IATA points to paragraph 16 of CORSIA’s rules as proof the Council is allowed to make this change. But Annie Petsonk from EDF disputes this reading. She says the paragraph allows the Council to decide criteria for triggering changes, not to decide on these changes itself.

DeSmog understands that ICAO has itself done a legal analysis on whether the Assembly rather than the Council needs to take the final decision on the baseline issue.

Speaking to DeSmog, Green MEP Jutta Paulus notes it still is not known whether the ICAO legal bureau has delivered an opinion on whether the Council can change the baseline. “It is a pity that they are only publishing the minutes of their Assemblies, which only take place about every three years,” she says. “We would wish for more transparency.”

Petsonk says the opinion that comes out of ICAOs legal department on the baseline change matters because, “it’s that paragraph on which IATA is hanging its hat, saying that the Assembly gave the Council the authority to do something as extraordinary as in effect suspending CORSIA for six years,” she says. “This is what the effect of the baseline decision would be. This would be a much smaller number [of states], potentially a simple majority of the Council – 19 states – undoing a decision that was taken by 190.”

It would also mean countries who may have spoken in defence of stronger climate measures won’t have a voice ahead of the decision, adds Petsonk.

Earlier this month, the EU, usually the most progressive voice at ICAO advocating for stronger climate policy, decided to support the baseline change. “It was very disappointing to see that the EU really backed the airline industry asks and obviously didn’t even put up any kind of fights to try to maintain the system as it is,” DuFrasne says.

The final decision on the baseline change is expected by the end of the session on 26 June. With few countries opposing it and no campaigners present at the Council session, it appears highly likely to pass at the Council level. Whether this will be the final decision, it seems, depends on the ICAO’s legal analysis.

But even if the Council outcome is established as just a recommendation to the Assembly, the decision on the baseline change could effectively already be made, says DuFrasne. “The ICAO Council is very powerful because what it recommends is very likely to then be adopted by the Assembly,” he says. “The fact that the Council cannot formally change the baseline doesn’t really change the situation of all these negotiations happening behind closed doors.”

The changes mean “we’re just going from a bad scheme to an extremely bad scheme,” he says.

Transparency

Media and civil society are blocked from attending the ICAO Council session, meaning its impossible to know which countries are pushing what.

ICAO confirmed to DeSmog that the Council session will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on air traffic and CORSIA, but refused to give any more information, saying the Council session is closed to the media. “It is not unusual for diplomatic activity to take place without the media present,” ICAO’s press office told DeSmog when asked why it was barring the press.

Campaigners have long criticised the lack of transparency at ICAO and its refusal to give access to media and campaigners to scrutinise its decisions. “Airlines have led this massive campaign [to get public bailouts], saying ‘we’re vital to society’,” says DuFrasne. “At the same time the closed doors of ICAO allow them to strongly lobby to destroy the only international climate policy that’s regulating them.”

ICAO has restrictive policies on access to documents and meetings, no freedom of information policy, and binds NGO observers by non-disclosure agreements. Its official Twitter account has been known to bizarrely attack and block climate campaigners and researchers who scrutinise ICAO’s policies, accusing these people of “fake news” and “spam”.

The focus of the ICAO Council session on changes to CORSIA makes the transparency question particularly pertinent, says Jo Dardenne, an expert on sustainable aviation at NGO Transport & Environment (T&E). “It’s quite questionable for a handful of member states to make decisions behind closed doors overnight on a scheme already agreed by over 190 countries,” she says.

https://www.desmog.co.uk/2020/06/24/aviation-industry-decision-weaken-climate-plan-could-break-own-rules

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‘Final blow’ to aviation climate plan as EU agrees to weaken rules

There had been hopes that the EU would insist on keeping more effective means of reducing carbon emitted by airlines. The current proposals by ICAO, in their CORSIA scheme, are too weak to be effective. The EU now say they will back the CORSIA scheme, which means watering down the rules.  Airlines want the baseline period, from which to measure airline carbon emissions for the CORSIA scheme, to be the two years, 2019 and 2020. But 2020 is going to be a year of atypically low airline activity. So they want the base line period to be just 2019. That means giving airlines a free pass to pollute for the next 3 to 6 years depending on the speed of the Covid recovery. That is what the EU has now agreed to, having initially stood out against it. So airlines could save $15 billion in carbon offsetting costs, paying nothing till 2024. This weakening of the scheme would further damage the credibility of the CORSIA offsetting scheme, which is widely regarded as weak and not aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. It will now become essentially meaningless.  The ineffective CORSIA scheme undermines many governments’ stated intentions to bolster climate ambition.

Click here to view full story…

Open letter to ICAO – the CORSIA scheme should not be weakened, just because of Covid

Thirteen organisations concerned with aviation carbon emissions and carbon trading, have written to ICAO to ask that they stick to the intentions for how the CORSIA scheme is set up, and do not weaken it. The stated purpose of CORSIA is to help the international aviation sector achieve “carbon-neutral growth from 2020”. It is due to use as a baseline the aviation CO2 emissions from 2019 and 2020. However, with the Covid pandemic, airline carbon emissions will be much lower than anticipated this year. If ICAO used 2019 and 2020, the amount of carbon the sector could emit, and the cost of emitting it, would be far lower than anticipated. So IATA wants to change the rules, so the carbon baseline only considers 2019, not including 2020, which would result in significantly lower offsetting requirements for airlines compared to the current CORSIA design. In fact, under most recovery scenarios, the change sought by IATA would eliminate all offsetting requirements for the duration of the CORSIA pilot phase and potentially several years thereafter. The rules need to be adhered to.

Click here to view full story…

IATA calls for change in CORSIA baseline to protect airlines from future higher offsetting requirements

Fri 3 Apr 2020
By GreenAir online

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, IATA has called on the ICAO Council to change the baseline calculation used for the CORSIA offsetting scheme for international aviation emissions.

Under rules agreed by ICAO, the baseline is set at the average emissions for the years 2019 and 2020. For the 15-year duration of CORSIA starting next year, airlines are required to purchase offsets to cover any annual growth in emissions above the baseline.
The collapse in global air traffic as a result of the outbreak, with demand unlikely to recover this year, will lead to significantly lower 2020 emissions. This in turn will lower the baseline considerably than was previously projected and result in much higher anticipated offsetting requirements and therefore costs once the sector returns to previous levels, says IATA.
It requests the Council to make the change no later than the end of June.

In a position paper, IATA says the baseline must be adjusted “to ensure the sustainable development of international aviation and avoid an inappropriate economic burden on the sector.” It recommends that only emissions for 2019 be used for calculating the baseline.

In support of its justification for a change in the baseline, the IATA paper quotes paragraph 16 of the A40-19 CORSIA resolution passed at the last ICAO Assembly in 2019,  “… on the need to provide for safeguards in the CORSIA to ensure the sustainable development of the international aviation sector and against inappropriate economic burden on international aviation, and requests the Council to decide the basis and criteria for triggering such action and identify possible means to address these issues …”.

The IATA paper argues: “Allowing the use of 2019 emissions as an alternative would preserve the environmental benefits that were forecast to be achieved through CORSIA as the adjusted baseline would remain more stringent than what the baseline would have been without the Covid-19 crisis.”

The airline trade body is also concerned that countries already signed up to join the voluntary pilot and first phases of CORSIA, and those still considering joining, may reconsider their positions in order to protect their airlines from potential higher compliance costs if no change is made to the 2019/20 calculation. States have until June 30 to notify ICAO of their intention to join the scheme from the beginning or decide to discontinue their voluntary participation.

Accordingly, IATA urges the Council to take a decision on a baseline adjustment before this date at the latest.

IATA also calls on ICAO to urge States to extend the May 31 deadline for the submission by aeroplane operators of their 2019 verified emissions report until at least the end of October 2020. It argues Covid-19 travel restrictions and confinement measures in many countries “have made it impossible for verification bodies to conduct verification activities.”

Historically, air transport activity has rebounded quickly after previous global crises but IATA’s March 24 Covid-19 impact assessment points to the potential for a deep financial recession following the outbreak that would delay the air transport sector’s recovery to previous levels. If this was to be the case and a 2019 only baseline applied to CORSIA, this could considerably reduce airline demand for offsets, at least in the 2021-23 pilot phase.Although it is too early to predict the impact of the pandemic on total emissions from international aviation this year, IATA’s current forecast is for a 38% fall in global passenger traffic in 2020. According to IATA, global emissions in 2019 – from domestic as well as international flights – totalled 915 million tonnes. Emissions from international aviation activity, which will be covered by CORSIA, account for around 60% of the global total.

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Heathrow air pollution down dramatically during Covid lockdown

With very low numbers of planes using Heathrow (97% down) over the past 3 months, due to the Covid lockdown, this has been an excellent opportunity to get data on air pollution – comparing days with, and without, the planes.  Using data from Air Quality England, local group Stop Heathrow Expansion have found that five air quality monitors around Heathrow which breached the maximum legal limit in March – May 2019 have shown an average 41% improvement in the same period in 2020.  Our current air quality laws state that nitrogen dioxide concentrations must not average more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), per year. This level is often exceeded at a range of locations around Heathrow. Readings from a site on the Northern Perimeter Road showed a 50% improvement in air quality. Another site outside Cherry Lane Primary School had a 46% reduction in NO2 emissions, from 44.1µg/m3 in March – May 2019 to a safer 23.9 µg/m3 in the same period in 2020. As well as fewer planes, there were fewer road vehicles. Air pollution figures from inside the airport boundary were substantially lower, showing the source is planes, not only road vehicles, as Heathrow likes to claim.
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HEATHROW AIR POLLUTION DOWN DRAMATICALLY during Covid lockdown

22nd June 2020

From Stop Heathrow Expansion

 

· Local Heathrow air quality improved by 41% since March

· Pollution monitors that regularly breached legal limits now safely within them

· Call for improved local air quality to be maintained as much as possible post-lockdown through Government adopting World Health Organisation guidelines for air pollution in its Environment Bill.

Research by campaigners has found an improvement of over 40% in local air quality around Heathrow Airport in the three months to the end of May 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.

Using data from Air Quality England, Stop Heathrow Expansion have found that five air quality monitors around Heathrow which breached the maximum legal limit in March – May 2019 have shown an average 41% improvement in the same period in 2020.

Our current air quality laws state that nitrogen dioxide concentrations must not average more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), per year.

Screenshot 2020-06-22 at 21.42.07.png
The lockdown has seen readings of one monitor, located on Heathrow’s Northern Perimeter Road showing a substantial 50% improvement in local air quality. Another site located outside Cherry Lane Primary School, close to the Heathrow junction of the M4 motorway, saw a 46% reduction in NO2 emissions, from 44.1µg/m3 in March – May 2019 to a safer 23.9 µg/m3 in the same period in 2020.

Of the five sites assessed, the three Hillingdon sites breached legal limits from January – December 2019 (Table 2). The sites in Slough and Hounslow, on major roads linking Heathrow to central London and the Thames Valley, there were recorded breaches throughout the 2019, with readings such as 45.7 µg/m3 recorded at the Hounslow monitor in April 2019 alone.

Screenshot 2020-06-22 at 21.42.13.png
A monitor within the Slough Borough, on a key road linking Heathrow to Langley and Slough, saw a 35% improvement in local air quality – from an illegal reading of 41.2µg/m3 in 2019 to 27.2µg/m3 in 2020.

Similarly, a monitor on the A4 within the London Borough of Hounslow saw a 36% reduction in nitrogen dioxide, from an average of 39.6µg/m3 in 2019 – with individual months such as March and April 2019 showing concentrations of 40.0 and 45.7µg/m3 respectively – to just 25.4µg/m3 in March – May 2020.

https://youtu.be/75_mIjKb1sQ

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This substantial improvement in local air quality around Heathrow is due to the reduced airport operations and a 97% reduction in passenger traffic. This in turn:

· reduced the number of planes polluting the local atmosphere;

· substantially reduced the number of private car journeys;

· reduced the number of cargo-related HGV movements on the local road network.

Despite claims by Heathrow that the poor local air quality is due to non-airport related traffic and their own operations, the reduction in the airport-related workforce has led to reduced private car journeys of employees (50% of airport-related employees travel to work by car). Staff car parks are empty as evidenced by the ‘drive thru’ COVID-19 testing centre at Heathrow.

It is vital that post-lockdown, our air quality is not allowed to exceed the legal limits. Heathrow must take more robust action to ensure its workforce, and the workforce of its partners, uses alternative methods of transport to travel to work and provide greater provision for active travel such as walking and cycling. Passengers must be discouraged, in the strongest possible way, from travelling to the airport by car.

Stop Heathrow Expansion is calling for the Government to adopt into UK law the World Health Organisation guidelines, with a commitment to non-regression. The guidelines state that in order to protect the public from harmful pollutants, nitrogen dioxide concentrations must not average more than 40 micrograms per cubic metre, per year.

The Government’s Environment Bill should provide greater powers for holding large polluters, such as Heathrow, to account, where there is evidence that a breach or severe detriment in local air quality is due to the operations of the organisation. The Bill must include a legally binding commitment to meet WHO guideline limits for NO2 and other harmful pollutants, with a commitment to non-regression.

The Bill presents a unique opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in limiting toxic pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, in the pursuit of cleaner air and to protect the health of local people not just around Heathrow, but around other airports across the UK.

http://stopheathrowexpansion.co.uk/news/2020/6/22/heathrow-air-pollution-down-dramaticallynbsp

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