To deliver on this, he said that we need to do the little things, but still work on those big things “that will drive our industry to be more sustainable”. But, while the flight shaming movement is on the rise, he noted air transport is a service that “connects society” and is not a luxury but a necessary way to remain connected with family and friends.
Aviation is heavily in the spotlight when it comes to environmental discussions, which while essential in driving sustainable solutions, the attention is a little unfair. "Yes, we do produce CO2 when we fly, that is correct. We [the aviation industry] produced 2.8% of all man-made CO2 this year; it's still 2.8% but we are by far one of the smaller contributors," explained the executive.
The aviation industry is investing billions of dollars in modern technology, working towards carbon neutrality and driving down CO2 emissions faster than any other industry. He said: "The focus is on the airlines now and I think it is completely unfair".
In the case of airBaltic that investment in modern technology is seeing the airline transition to an exclusive Airbus A220 fleet. According to the CAPA Fleet Database it now operates 22 of the type, with 28 more on order. These will replace its remaining 737-300s and Dash 8Q-400s, delivering a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to existing aircraft.
But, according to Mr Gauss, 20% is "not enough" and that the industry has to "focus on the big things... that will drive our industry to be more sustainable" such as the transition to hybrid and electric aircraft. He noted current efforts to transition to biofuels are "very positive", but they remain "three times more expensive" than conventional fuel and it is difficult to have them supplied to airlines.
LEARN MORE… Watch our exclusive interview with Martin Gauss, executive board chairman and CEO of airBaltic, recorded on the sidelines of the CAPA World Aviation Outlook Summit in Malta in Dec-2019.