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Austrian Airlines on World Environment Day: Sustainable aviation is possible


• Austrian Airlines continues to focus on effective ways of reducing CO2 emissions
• Active political measures are essential to make aviation emission-free
• CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech: "For the development and production of alternative fuels suitable for mass use we need a location initiative in Vienna"

On 5 June, World Environment Day focuses each year on the challenges of maintaining an intact environment. Austrian Airlines is aware of its responsibility and has therefore been working on reducing the company's ecological footprint for years. However, in order to achieve the goal of emission-free aviation in the long term, active political measures are essential.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
One of the most promising means to reduce CO2 emissions is to use Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) instead of fossil fuels such as kerosene. SAFs, for example made from waste bio-oils, are currently available on the market, but at less than 0.01 percent compared to global kerosene production and at 3 to 4 times the price of conventional kerosene. The ecologically best way is synthetic fuel, produced from renewable electricity, water and CO2. “Synthetic fuels already exist on the market - but on a laboratory scale and therefore also at pharmacist prices. To make mass development and production at the Vienna hub possible, we need a location initiative,” emphasizes CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech.

Admixture quota
From a global perspective, an obligation to add alternative fuels to fossil kerosene is a good instrument to boost research and production. However, national or regional solo efforts lead to a distortion in competition and negative environmental effects, since non-EU airlines would make use of “tankering” methods. They would no longer refuel at a location, which is more expensive due to taxes, fees or admixture quotas. These airlines would then fill up significantly larger quantities of kerosene at home in order to be able to cover the way back. This increases the weight of the aircraft and thus also the CO2 emissions. "The EU and its member states must ensure that European airlines are not exposed to a competitive disadvantage compared to companies from third countries through the use of alternative fuels," demands Alexis von Hoensbroech.

Environmental taxes
Since 2012, aviation has been the only transport sector included in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and is responsible for CO2 emissions on all intra-European and national flights. However, in Austria the national revenue from the ETS is not earmarked. In addition, the national flight tax, motivated by environmental policies as well, does not benefit any environmental or climate projects. "National earmarking in favor of research, development and market introduction of alternative fuels for aviation is essential to enable production in Austria and to secure competitive prices," concludes Alexis von Hoensbroech. The global growth of international aviation in the global compensation system CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) has been CO2-neutral since 2021.

What measures is Austrian Airlines already implementing?
Before the Corona crisis, global air traffic had a share of around 3 percent in global CO2 emissions. The share of the currently much discussed short-haul flights makes up around 4 percent of all CO2 emissions caused by aviation. In order to reduce emissions in the long term, Austrian Airlines has been implementing climate-friendly measures for years. To boost the shift from air to rail for short routes, Austrian Airlines has been offering the option of an attractive rail connection from Linz, Salzburg and Graz to Vienna Airport with AIRail since 2014. As part of the ReOil project, together with OMV and Vienna Airport, Austrian Airlines has been processing plastic cups and other plastic items on board into crude oil and subsequently into kerosene since 2018. In the refinery process only, this saves 45 percent CO2. Since this spring, passengers have the possibility to compensate their emissions by purchasing alternative fuels on the “Compensaid” platform. Since 2008, it is possible to offset ticket purchases through climate projects. Currently, new and thus significantly more CO2-efficient and lower noise aircraft, weight reduction and direct flight routes are having the biggest impact.

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