The EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package is a landmark moment for Europe, when the EU can help set aviation on a path to net zero. The legislative package of proposals includes a Sustainable Aviation Fuel blending mandate, a reform of the EU’s Emissions Trading System, and an aviation fuel tax for flights within Europe.
easyJet believes that the aviation industry, in line with the ambitions of the EU Green Deal, needs to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner. We have consistently led the sector in pushing for action on climate change, including being the first major airline to support aviation’s coverage in the EU’s Emissions Trading System, and the first to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used on all our flights. Offsetting is the most effective interim solution until zero-emission hydrogen and electric propulsion is available, starting in the 2030s.
Delivering on climate change is the most important long-term challenge for aviation. Therefore it is critical that any fiscal measures applied to aviation support this aim. Last week we outlined in a letter sent to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Executive Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, our support for measures which link taxes to emissions, price carbon fairly for everyone, and ensure all sources of aviation emissions are covered.
However, there can be no double taxation, so any fuel tax must include the replacement of all the ineffective passenger taxes in Europe with a combination of a fuel tax for intra-EU flights and a flight tax for long-haul flights that reflects their emissions. This way all airlines and passengers are incentivised to fly more efficiently. Everyone needs to play their part in tackling climate change, including the long-haul flights which create the majority of emissions.
The fact the Commission’s proposal is for a fuel tax only for intra-EU flights means it falls short in this regard as it does not address long-haul and does not replace the current ineffective passenger taxes. Both would be required for our full support, so we call on the Commission to address these next. Eurocontrol figures demonstrate that just 6% of flights (the long-haul ones) create 51% of the emissions from European aviation. Taxing everyday normal people, while excluding wealthy business-class passengers emitting most of the CO2 on long-haul trips, is unfair and therefore we will continue to push for equal treatment.
We commend the European Commission’s move towards a full-scope and non-discriminatory Sustainable Aviation Fuel mandate, which will ensure equal treatment and fair competition. We now call for the same principle to be applied on other environmental policies such as the fuel tax and the Emissions Trading System.
We must ensure that the proposed measures reduce emissions while maintaining the benefits of aviation for the connectivity of Europe. The aim should not be to penalise flying, but to incentivise carbon reductions and the delivery of new technology that will make zero-carbon flights a reality.
At easyJet, we are particularly focused on the opportunity for flights within Europe to be genuinely zero-emission. For example, we are collaborating with Airbus, which plans to deliver the first hydrogen-powered aircraft in 2035. This, combined with electric technology, is the future for short-haul aviation, so it is vital that the ‘Fit for 55’ package supports this objective.
Furthermore, offsetting must be recognised more widely by European policy on aviation, since it is currently the most effective way for airlines to tackle their climate impact today until cleaner propulsion is available. It is something all carriers can do starting from today. easyJet was the world’s first major airline worldwide to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all our flights, using expert partners and only choosing certified schemes of the highest standard at no additional cost to our customers.
We therefore call on the EU to incentivise the rest of our sector to follow this example as an interim step until sustainable fuels and zero-emission propulsion are widely available.
As Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet CEO says, “easyJet believes that the aviation industry, in line with ambitions of the EU Green Deal, needs to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner.
“We are working with our partners Airbus and Wright Electric to accelerate the development of zero-emission technologies and we hope that by the mid- to late-2030s we will begin to see our customers flying on electric, hydrogen or hybrid aircraft. We believe that new aviation technologies are the solution to decarbonise our industry while driving innovation, connectivity and local jobs. In the meantime, we also continue to operate our aircraft as efficiently as possible, offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all our flights and operating of the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleets in Europe.
“We want flying to be – and remain – affordable for everyone, not only for the wealthy. This means all airlines must take part in decarbonisation, not just those flying intra-EEA. The benefits of aviation are unparalleled in terms of connecting people, reuniting friends and family, enabling people to experience different cultures and also providing for economic prosperity, especially following the global pandemic.”