Sustainable Aviation Initiatives In Spotlight

Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / Getty Images

The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) predicts COVID-19 will have a 16% impact on traffic 30 years from now, the group said in a report, “Waypoint 2050.”

“Over the course of just a few months, we’ve lost over 15 years’ worth of growth in passenger traffic. That impact has been so large that it’s reset the projections of future growth all the way out to 2050 and beyond. The numbers are simply astounding,” ATAG executive director Michael Gill told delegates at a virtual Global Sustainable Aviation Forum.

“It is a little bit unnerving to see that the short shutdown in global traffic this year is still going to have an impact in 2050. The central forecast we used for the study shows traffic in 2050 down 16%, compared with the same forecast before COVID hit. But still, by 2050, we expect to see around 10 billion passengers.”

The report predicts a 3% compound annual growth rate from 2019 until 2050, driven by Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, although North America and Europe will still see “significant growth.”

By 2050, aviation is aiming to halve its CO2 emissions, compared with 2005 levels. Waypoint 2050 supports this ambition and goes a step further, suggesting that net-zero global air transport emissions could be achieved by 2060-65, with some regions and individual companies reaching that goal sooner. Most of the sustainability measures suggested by the report are not new. They include a shift from fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives, new technologies and operational improvements—and the need for funding in these areas.

ATAG does not regard the report as a roadmap. Instead, it is described as a “detailed analysis of different pathways” to achieve the 2050 goal. “Waypoints are not the destination, they’re a marker on the way to a destination, and in our case that endpoint is zero-carbon connectivity by air,” Gill said.

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.


1 Comment
Keep in mind CO2 is aviation's 2nd largest contributor to global warming. Largest aviation contribution is the formation of contrails, as exhaust particles and water vapor lead to the formation of the ice crystals of which contrails are composed.

CO2 remains the second-largest contributor, responsible for about 60 percent as much as contrails. The smallest of the three contributors is nitrogen oxides, with about 30 percent of the impact of contrails

D.S. Lee, et al., “The Contribution of Global Aviation to Anthropogenic Climate Forcing for 2000 to 2018, Atmospheric Environment, September 2020

Primer on Aircraft Induced Clouds and Their Global Warming Mitigation Options. Lance Sherry, Terrence Thompson