Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA, speaks at the IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland, Image: Joe Leader

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA, speaks at the IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland. Image: Joe Leader

In full alignment with APEX, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air transport Association (IATA), has underlined the airline industry’s commitment to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Flying’s vital role is recognized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” de Juniac stated. “Aviation plays a part in achieving 15 of the 17 [goals], indicating the fundamental relevance of this industry in addressing humankind’s toughest challenges.”

De Juniac added that, “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation is responsible for 2% of global manmade carbon emissions.” Reports suggest that this proportion is set to rise, backed by statistics from IATA showing that the inflation adjusted price per-ticket has fallen by 64% in the past two decades, and the number of non-stop routes has doubled to over 22,000 worldwide, contributing to a significant growth in the number of passengers traveling by air.

However, IATA shared that, over the past decade, the airline industry has surpassed its fuel efficiency improvement target of 1.5% per annum, having made a 2.3% improvement each year since 2009.

“Aviation plays a part in achieving 15 of the 17 [goals], indicating the fundamental relevance of this industry in addressing humankind’s toughest challenges.” – Alexandre de Juniac, IATA

During the opening session, IATA’s chief economist, Brian Pierce, also highlighted that climate concerns are now being discussed by European airlines six times per investor call, on average, while US airline investor calls cover the issue an average of twice per year. Pierce said this marks a spike in airline climate discussion which, historically, has rarely been brought up on investor calls.

In response to this information, APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader posed the question, “Looking at the 80% reduction in fuel burn per passenger during the jet era that’s now been capped off by the 2.3% per year improvement, do you believe that the airline industry is doing enough to assertively express that if all other industries had reduced their footprint by similar amounts, that there would likely not be a global warming crisis today?”

While Tony Concil, IATA’s VP Corporate Communications, responded, “We’re focused on our 2% and not necessarily on other industries,” de Juniac did agree that there have not been strong enough steps taken by other industries.

Moving forward, IATA and APEX are continuing to collaborate through the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) to cut all airline industry emissions to half the level of 2005.