Willie Walsh: “They’re part of the problem, they’ve got to be part of the solution.”

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Innovation, Sustainability, Video

At Aerospace Tech Week, Willie Walsh, Director General, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) joined for a five minute discussion on the industry landscape. During the interview, he outlined a path for tackling the sustainability challenge and looked at the failures of the Single European Sky (SES) deal.

Underscoring the critical role of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in navigating the decarbonisation of the industry, Walsh briefly mapped out the role governments must play in stimulating its scale up. Highlighting the concerning disparity between the US and European SAF production, Walsh cautioned that we are not seeing the right balance between incentives and mandates being adopted internationally, and governments are failing to recognise the opportunity in front of them.

Walsh urged that effectively addressing the sustainability challenge will take the support from every member of the ecosystem including governments, regulators, OEMs etc. Singling out fuel suppliers, Walsh said:

“Traditional fuel suppliers who have made hundreds of billions in profit off the industry over the years need to significantly accelerate their investment in the production of SAF […] They’re part of the problem, they’ve got to be part of the solution.”

Unpacking the flaws of the SES deal which Walsh previously condemned as a “failure,” he highlighted its initial promises: a tenfold improvement in safety, tripling Europe’s airspace capacity, substantial cost reduction, and a 10 per cent decrease in CO2 emissions. Criticising the deal for falling short on all four fronts, Walsh described the deal as “very disappointing given the critical importance of all of those issues.”

Questions asked:

  • You described the EU’s Single European Sky deal as a failure. Which areas in particular did the agreement fall short and to what extent will this impact the industry’s ability to modernise European air traffic management?
  • What do you see as the major challenges when it comes to meeting the net zero by 2050 goal and how many of these are going to require government involvement to overcome them?
  • How do you propose we catalyse the mindset shift towards a more inclusive ecosystem involving governments, suppliers, airlines etc.?

Watch the full interview below.



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