December 6, 2022

A lot of ‘greenest airline’ league tables you see are led by LCCs. The reason for that is that an LCC’s per passenger CO2 footprint is inevitably lower based on more passengers per plane (no premium cabins) and generally newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

But does that give a complete picture of what’s going on? What if an Ultra LCC is actually increasing its overall emissions every year due to growth?

That’s why Impact on Sustainable Aviation would like two criteria to be added onto that per passenger CO2 stat.

Impact has been created by aviation investors as well as leasing companies and so includes members such as ING Bank, KPMG, Monte Aircraft Leasing, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

In a recent white paper, Impact says – “Metrics on which performance is measured, if inadequately defined, may create loopholes and in some cases open the door to greenwashing.”

As a result, their suggestion is to measure decarbonisation via the following three criteria:

“First, there is the absolute carbon footprint of an airline or a portfolio of aircraft; second, the efficiency (intensity) with which an aircraft can produce a given transport service; and third, the degree to which the evolution of CO₂ is decoupled from the evolution of capacity.”

In other words, efficiency continues to be an important metric, but in addition, Impact also says we should measure an airline’s total emissions.

The final metric, decoupling, is particularly interesting. If an airline were to increase the % of SAF used or start swapping out aircraft for next-generation alternatives (see our next story about Embraer for example), it would be decoupling its growth from its emissions.

Coming from major aircraft financiers, these proposals do of course carry a certain amount of weight.

Indeed, in the conclusion, Impact explicitly states that the body will “encourage aircraft financiers to consider tying the financing of aircraft to the performance of the decoupling metrics of the airlines concerned (sustainability-linked).”

In addition, “we would expect that going forward, financing documentation would include disclosure of these metrics by the relevant airlines. These metrics would allow aviation companies to demonstrate a tangible commitment to decarbonization.”

The report is available to download here.

(With thanks to Patrick Edmond for alerting us to the white paper)

SimpliFlying CEO Shashank Nigam writes:

Impressed by Embraer‘s vision for its Energia concepts – betting on re-thinking regional aviation with a slew of hybrid/electric/H2 aircraft set to enter service by 2030.

What stood out to me in the presentations by Arjan Meijer was a clear vision of carbon-neutral aircraft leading up to 2050. I also found the comparison to an electric car driving 500nm vs flying the same distance, as highlighted by Luís Carlos Affonso and Rodrigo Silva e Souza.

It’s interesting to note that in determining the market size for these aircraft, Embraer also evaluated accelerated retirement, not just new use cases. Overall, a comprehensive take on the decarbonisation of the regional aviation market.

In the past week, we’ve now had Airbus and Embraer present their net zero future. Boeing is conspicuous by absence!

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