Airlines May Reduce Flights to Australia to Meet Emissions Promises, Warns Parliament

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International airlines could scale back their flights to Australia in the coming years as the country’s long-haul routes present an easy target for meeting future environmental commitments, according to a submission made by the Australian Airports Association (AAA) to a parliamentary inquiry.

The AAA warned that Australia could be “priced out” of the international aviation network due to mandatory emissions reduction schemes being negotiated, with carbon pricing and binding targets taking effect in the next decade.

“As Australia is at the edges of the global air network with long distances from Australian airports to major regional and global hubs in Asia, North America, and the Middle East, it is essential to ensure Australia remains a viable destination for international migration, tourism and business travel,” the AAA’s submission stated.

AAA’s CEO, James Goodwin, urged Australia’s active participation in international discussions for equitable emissions reductions, taking aviation’s significance to the country’s connectivity into account. He proposed airlines cut unnecessary short-haul flights elsewhere and use their aircraft for multiple short-haul flights in Europe rather than reducing long-haul routes to Australia.

While the potential for sustainable aviation fuel exists, Australia needs to catch up to other countries regarding SAF capabilities. Goodwin stressed the urgency of developing the SAF industry to align with global emissions reduction goals.

Australia’s Transport Minister, Catherine King, supported the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) initiatives, including the aspiration for net-zero carbon emissions in international aviation by 2050. However, concerns remain over Australia’s SAF capability and the potential reduction in connectivity if decisive actions are not taken.

“The two countries’ “shared ambitions for decarbonising aviation … while still facilitating growth in the industry,” King said.

As international agreements concerning emissions reductions are expected to become mandatory soon, the Australian government faces increasing pressure to address these issues and secure the country’s position in the global aviation network.

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