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Air Transport could soon hit a patch of Turbulence

Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

The very success of air transport is also its biggest challenge. Worldwide, it is estimated that 4.6 billion passengers will travel by air in 2019. And the number of passengers is expected to nearly double by 2036 and could reach 8.5 billion (Re.IATA). That said, an uncontrolled growth of this key sector of the economy is clearly at the expense of the environment. In fact air transport contributes to 4.9% of human-caused climate change, which is significant (Re.IPCC & WMO). The aviation industry has long identified the main technical problem that must be solved: the fuel used to power aircraft engines. Yet, the development of new sustainable aviation fuels requires heavy investment and time. Other threats to this sector include the noise generated by aircrafts. People living close to airports suffer from the almost unbearable noise of aircraft taking off and landing. Therefore, it will always be harder to gain public support for the construction of new airports. Furthermore, and against this background, several European countries including Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Sweden prepare draft legislation that would ban short-haul flights. Of course, such a project only makes sense if the country concerned has an extensive network of high-speed trains. Finally, the introduction of a climate tax on air tickets in some countries worries many airlines. However, as the demand for air travel increases sharply throughout the world, it is necessary that the aviation sector takes strong measures to protect the environment.

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