Airport Sustainability has been a headline topic in the United Kingdom over the past year. Ongoing Heathrow Expansion, new political agendas from both the Conservatives and Labour party, and the beginning-of-the-end of the BAA London Airport monopoly have only served to fuel the debate.
The concept of sustainability has been defined as the “triple-bottom-line” of balancing economic, environmental, and social issues. We advocate that many important elements of airport sustainability are being ignored in favour of the more emotive issues of environmental special interest and narrow and near-term economic views. When viewed under the lens of our strategic planning models, several issues come to the foreground that we feel have an important impact on the overall sustainability.
In the context of some quantifiable global trends, is our airport infrastructure truly socially sustainable?
With a peak in the EU population of over sixty-fives expected in the next 10 years, are our current airport designs- with long walks to gates and limited space- socially sustainable? How will we as an industry respond to the increased needs of increasingly aging and mobility-challenged passenger numbers?
With larger aircraft and an emergence of a mobile middle class in growing Mid East and Asian economies, how will our current infrastructure serve these unprecedented passenger numbers?
How will changes in airline and passenger preference in point-to-point flights be handled by constrained regional airports?
In the environmental sphere, there are still key questions that we feel are being eclipsed by confusing, and often misleading information, about the aviation industry’s contribution to overall CO2 emissions and what actions could really be applied to reduce emissions in the short term.
Reducing airbourne traffic delays, and increasing Air Traffic Control efficiencies between is certain to reduce carbon emissions, yet plans for single skies have languished for years. If the EU is serious about reducing the 3% of carbon emissions attributed to the commercial aviation sector, one alternative is more broadly funded and fast-track plans for the integrated EU Single Skies Air Traffic Control (SESAR).
There are more productive, short-term, carbon reduction plans that the EU Government could adopt, which airlines would most likely embrace. In particular, we believe that the innovative “Green Flight” programme, developed by SAS, has immediate potential to help governments and the industry reduce emissions. With changes in both processes and technological investment, SAS have been able to reduce carbon emissions by 23,000 tonnes per year through more efficient flight and ATC ground systems interaction.
Prior to announcing the inclusion of airlines into the Carbon Credit scheme, both the UK and EU have failed to demonstrate that at least some of the carbon reduction goals would not have occurred in the natural order of next generation aircraft development. Primarily these net savings would come from increased aircraft efficiencies. Government-endorsed carbon offset schemes are unregulated and many have dubious claims, which only serve to further skew public opinion on the complex issue of airline emissions. We take the position that the truth about these programmes is that they should be subject to regulatory scrutiny and exposed to a market moral hazard should they fail to live up to their claims.
We want to emphasise the position that ATC efficiency is a more immediate and sustainable approach than investing in the enforcement and administration of the carbon credit scheme. v Overall, we believe that true sustainability must equitably address the balance between economic, environmental, and social aspects. Quantitative measurement plans, based on sound analysis of future trends is one of the keys to success. It is also important to assess outlying future events, and judge their probability, as part of any sound strategic planning cycle. In conjunction with our partner companies, TWC is developing a model to help airlines, airport authorities, and governments to iteratively review, measure, and develop policies to support long-term sustainability. Essentially what we offer is our own sustainable process model for strategic success.
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 7:27 pm and is filed under Airlines and Aviation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.