ERA director defends roadmap to decarbonizing aviation | Airlines

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Short-haul flying is under intense pressure in Europe. Not only are airlines in this segment having to contend with relatively low margins and competitive pressures, but they are now facing a new, potentially existential, challenge.   

Environmental activists and politicians in several European countries are pressing for a ban on short-haul flights, in a bid to cut carbon emissions. Limited bans on certain domestic routes have followed in places like France and Spain and additional restrictive measures are currently being discussed in several other European states.  

In their current form these bans are expected to have a limited practical impact on emissions figures. Responding to the French government’s decision to ban domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives are available, Laurent Donceel, interim head of industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E), said the new law was a “symbolic ban” and told the AFP news agency that “banning these trips will only have minimal effects”. 

European airlines fear that bans such as these signal the start of much harsher measures. So, how are Europe’s regional airlines planning to navigate the bans? And how can they argue the case for keeping short-haul flights?   

AeroTime attended the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) annual conference, which took place in Berlin on March 13-14, 2024, and had an in-depth conversation with ERA’s Director General, Montserrat Barriga, to gain fresh insight into the matter. 

Miquel Ros // AeroTime

The ERA represents more than 55 airlines that operate primarily within the continent’s airspace, ranging from local operators to some national airlines. 

Talking about the ERA’s advocacy work in Brussels, Barriga said: We are a relatively small part of the aviation industry so, [we] get together in this association to make our voices heard.” 

While the main purpose of the ERA is to represent the interests of member airlines, many other companies have also joined…

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