June 20, 2024

People at an airport

People at an airport
Photo: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)

The global mission by airlines to cut carbon emissions cannot be sustained by the cheap airfares loved by consumers. according to Willie Walsh, general director of the International Air Transport Association.

As reported by The Telegraph on Monday, Walsh told attendees of the body’s recent annual meeting that “I’m sorry to say but the transition to net zero will require customers to pay.” He added that “the costs can’t be borne by the industry given the wafer thin margins we have.”

In October 2021, the IATA said that its member airlines — which includes just about every major global player from Delta Air Lines to Emirates to Japan Airlines — would achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In March, Bloomberg reported that carriers are struggling to deal with the costs of everything from cleaner-but-more-expensive fuels to more fuel-efficient aircraft. In some jurisdictions, planes even have to pay fees associated with their outsize carbon output.

The idea that customers would have to take up some of these costs sits awkwardly next to a trend Bloomberg has reported, where larger, so-called “legacy” airlines are battling with budget carriers to post the lowest fares possible in a bid to increase their market share.

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