Flightpath to a sustainable future

Montréal, 18 June 2012 – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) launched today “Flightpath to a Sustainable Future”, an ICAO special Rio+20 global initiative consisting of the first-ever series of connecting flights powered by sustainable alternative fuels, on which ICAO Secretary General, Mr. Raymond Benjamin, will travel from Montréal to Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.

Organized in close cooperation with numerous industry stakeholders, these flights will be some of the greenest to operate.  On his way to Rio+20, Mr. Benjamin will travel via Toronto, Mexico City and São Paulo, on flights with Porter Airlines, Air Canada, Aeroméxico and GOL. The flights, which will operate using various blends of sustainable aviation biofuel, will also involve the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, including Bombardier, Airbus and Boeing.  The initiative will be complemented by the first Azul Airlines and Embraer biofuel test flight using a sugar cane blend and a biofuel flight from Europe.

“This is truly a world-first series of flights,” said ICAO Secretary General Benjamin, “and one which demonstrates that the whole air transport sector is working together to make significant advances across a range of sustainability issues, so that it can continue to fulfill its role as a catalyst for economic and social development, while reducing its impact on the environment.” 

“Such a collaborative enterprise showcases in a concrete manner that sustainable biofuels are now a reality.  From camelina to used cooking oil or jatropha, advanced alternative fuels help save significant amounts of CO2 emissions while not competing for land or water with food crops,” also stated the President of the ICAO Council, Mr. Roberto Kobeh González.

The flights will also carry a message from the aviation industry itself as the ATAG Aviation & Environment Summit’s Declaration will be delivered to leaders at Rio+20.  Signed by the heads of associations representing the world’s airports, airlines, air navigation service providers and manufacturers, the declaration reiterates the air transport sector’s commitment to environmental responsibility while ensuring that it can continue to bring enormous benefits to communities and economies around the globe.

Paul Steele, Executive Director of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), a group representing the global aviation sector, emphasized that “aviation is a key enabler of economic growth and social development which currently supports 56.6 million jobs and over $2.2 trillion of global GDP.  Our sector has a strong track record of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions savings working collaboratively as today’s flights are demonstrating. But we also need governments to step up and help craft the sustainable future we all want. Support for research and development of new technologies, sustainable biofuels for aviation and much-needed improvements in infrastructure are vital for aviation to be able to continue its positive role while minimizing its environmental impact.”

The industry declaration and further information about the social and economic benefits of aviation can be downloaded from www.aviationbenefitsbeyondborders.org.

Airlines received approval to fly on biofuels in June 2011. While there are very small quantities of sustainable aviation biofuel available to airlines today, it is hoped that with the right government assistance, producers will be able to deliver the quantities needed at a price comparable to traditional jet fuel while continuing to meet sustainability criteria.

The series of flights will arrive in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, Tuesday 19 June, for the Rio+20 aviation day, just ahead of the high-level session for heads of government delegations.

Contact

Haldane Dodd

Head of Communications

Tel: +41 22 770 2981

Fax: +41 22 770 2686

doddh@atag.org