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German aviation industry presents plan for zero-emission flights

Christian Fernsby |
The German aviation industry association (BDL) wanted to make climate-neutral flying possible in the long term, according to a statement released by the BDL executive committee on Friday.

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Making air transport more sustainable and compatible with climate protection was one of the "central common challenges," the German aviation industry association noted.

The BDL statement, which contained proposals to make flying more climate-friendly, noted that the "greatest leverage" lay in the further development of fuels.

"We want to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation to zero. We know that this goal can only be achieved if fossil kerosene is replaced by regenerative fuels," the BDL executive committee stated.

The association, to which German airports and larger German airlines belong, said that it was "prepared to participate in pilot projects to build industrial plants for the production of power-to-liquid fuel".

With regard to CO2 pricing, the German aviation association supported the further strengthening of emissions trading in the European Union (EU), but emphasized that "national solo attempts at taxes and levies would be counterproductive in terms of climate policy and economically harmful".

The German aviation association industry further demanded that the German government use the revenues from the air traffic tax specifically for climate policy purposes in aviation" such as promoting the market introduction of renewable fuels.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 23.5 million domestic German passengers flew in 2018.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) estimated the greenhouse gas emissions caused by these flights at around 2 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

In order to reduce the number of inland flights, the German aviation industry announced on Friday that it was prepared to discontinue flight routes within Germany if a "well-developed rail link" made intermodal transport possible.

"Where customers predominantly switch to an attractive rail connection by means of attractive high-speed rail connections, we will discontinue air traffic," read the German aviation industry statement.

German politicians have been discussing increasing investments in the German rail network to boost passenger numbers and reduce inland flights for a while.

German Minister for the Environment Svenja Schulze from the SPD recently said that a comprehensive climate protection package in Germany should include air traffic.

"It cannot be that on certain routes flying costs less than travelling by train," said German Environment Minister Schulze, adding that she supported increasing the aviation levy "as a first step".

A recent position paper from the German Green Party called for trains to become a "faster, more comfortable and cheaper alternative on almost all domestic German routes and into neighboring countries".

Travelling by train should become attractive enough to render short-stretch flights "superfluous" by 2035, according to the German Greens.

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