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With the gradual restart of air services in the coming weeks, leaders from over a dozen air transport associations1 representing the European aviation sector issued an urgent call for EU leaders today to prioritise specific decarbonisation initiatives in their allocation of future COVID-19 recovery funding.

The European aviation sector continues to reel from the sudden collapse of the air transport system over the last months and is among the most heavily impacted. Recovery efforts are being challenged even more as aviation needs to meet ambitious climate change goals. Investments in future technologies towards decarbonisation should be placed at the heart of the EU’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. In the meantime, existing financial instruments could also be made available to provide urgent relief.

Europe’s aviation sector is committed to contribute to the recovery of European economies in line with the Green Deal objectives and to the benefit of all. It therefore calls on policymakers to apply smart measures when supporting civil aviation during its recovery. This requires that aviation climate action be eligible for funding under the mechanisms foreseen by Next Generation EU and the new Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).

Sylviane Lust, AIRE Director General, commented: “Benefitting from these support measures will help our sector regain its economic viability – a prerequisite for safeguarding both its role as a key driver of economic growth and our ability to keep investing in decarbonisation”.

A combination of public and private investment is necessary to allow air transport leaders to speed up work towards decarbonisation in line with EU’s goal of climate-neutrality by 2050.

Specific proposals include:

  1. Boosting the production and uptake of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) in Europe through a dedicated and stable set of policy measures and public investment plans. Such measures would notably be welcomed within the “ReFuel EU Aviation-Sustainable Aviation Fuels” initiative and include:
    1. Direct capital investment (or ownership) in SAF production facilities, enabling the necessary de-risking required to debt finance projects as well as the execution of off-take contracts with aircraft operators;
    2. Making Europe the centre of excellence for the development and production of SAFs through the construction and funding of commercial scale SAF projects from globally approved technology pathways.
  2. Implement a green incentive scheme for airlines and aircraft operators to replace older aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters) with more modern and environmentally friendly aircraft. Public funds should be used and dedicated to the recovery to provide such incentives to aircraft operators. On average, new aircraft models are 20% – 25% more fuel-efficient and produce less noise compared to previous generations. Such an incentive scheme would speed up the green transition towards the EU’s shorter term ambition of 2030.
  3. Increase public funding and public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation (Clean Aviation and SESAR): Use resources from the recovery funds to inject additional capital beyond the amount that will be provided through the MFF and Horizon Europe in particular. European disruptive technologies and innovative fuels, including hydrogen, can generate deep and long-term emissions reductions towards the EU’s Climate Neutrality in 2050.
  4. Continued investment in the European Air Traffic Management system (ATM): Enhance the benefits of the Single European Sky and provide temporarily 100% public funding for the deployment of SESAR technologies with proven sustainable and environmental benefits. Such funds should benefit all stakeholders that will need to contribute to the deployment of new technologies, including airports, airspace users and air navigation services providers.
  1. Investment in sustainable airport and heliport infrastructure: Ensure eligibility of projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and electrification (e.g. improving the energy efficiency of terminal buildings, renewable energy generation on-site, supply of electrical ground power to aircraft on stand, electrification of ground vehicle fleets, etc.)



For further information, please contact:

Sylviane Lust
Director General
Tel: +32 (0) 2 546 10 60
Email: Sylviane.Lust@aire.aero

 Footnote 1

Aerospace & Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD); Airlines International Representation in Europe (AIRE); Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE); Airlines for Europe (A4E); European Regions Airline Association (ERA); Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO); European Helicopter Association (EHA); European Business Aviation Association (EBAA); European Travel Commission (ETC); Ceemet – European Tech & Industry Employers;; General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); International Air Transport Association (IATA);