IATA chief calls for single Europe airspace to cut airline pollution

GENEVA (Thomson Financial) – The head of the international airline body IATA, Giovanni Bisignani, urged European governments on Monday to work towards a single European airspace to raise efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Bisignani asked governments to move beyond politics and economic measures.

He said that the next European Union presidency under France should show strong leadership towards a so-called open-skies agreement.

Environmental activists have been pressing for lower emissions from the airline sector and are urging travellers to cut back their air travel.

The term ‘open skies’ is usually used to mean the reduction or removal of regulatory and protective barriers restricting competition across frontiers.

‘We must encourage President Sarkozy to take leadership to tear down borders and build a single European sky,’ Bisignani said at the third aviation and environment summit in Geneva.

Bisignani, who is director-general and chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), pointed to the Nobel prize-winning report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that increased competition in air travel could increase efficiency by 12 percent.

That was equivalent to a saving of more than 70 million tonnes of carbon emissions, he said.

Earlier this month, Bangkok signatories to the 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol promised to explore ways of curbing airplanes’ carbon emissions.

The global transport industry accounts for about 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but air and sea travel were excluded from emissions cuts promised by rich nations under the Kyoto pact.