Aviation

Flight shaming is not the answer, says Qantas CEO

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

Qantas’ CEO has warned against “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to travelling sustainably.

Speaking at the CAPA’s 2019 Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, Alan Joyce said that while we are seeing more and more climate-related events occurring, flight shaming and government-imposed taxes on passengers and airlines are not the answer.

“What the airline industry is doing is focusing on making sure we can lessen our impact on the environment but in some cases that’s not being communicated well and in some cases there’s a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Joyce said. 

The flight shaming movement, which began in Sweden with the hashtag #flygskam, spurred thousands of people across Europe to pledged on social media they would not fly unnecessarily or would go a year without flying.

French and Dutch politicians have also joined the bandwagon, with France announcing last month it would put an “ecotax” on airlines starting in 2020, and the Netherlands has floated the idea of imposing a €7  (AUD$11.50) flight tax on passengers in 2021.

The outbound aviation industry in Australia is beginning to stagnate, as CAPA’s emeritus chairman Peter Harbison said yesterday, however, this appears to be caused by the declining Aussie dollar and oil prices, rather than for sustainability reasons.

Despite this, Joyce said the airline industry has a good story to tell when it comes to sustainable travel.

“The things that we’re doing as an industry are fantastic, we have set a target by 2050 to have our Co2 emissions at half the levels of 2005, which meets the Paris agreement,” he said. 

“We have put a price globally on carbon, the first industry that has done that.”

According to figures published in The Conversation, the airline industry uses 5 million barrels of oil every day, which contributes around 2.5 per cent of total carbon emissions, which could rise to 22 per cent by 2050.

“It’s important to do these things [introduce sustainability measures] and to do them for the right reasons,” Joyce said.

“But its equally important that you’re communicating and making sure that we don’t approach the solution to air transportation by suppressing it. We can’t go back to the 1920s and not have air travel.

“We need to make sure we do throw the bathwater out, but we keep the baby because it is important for the world economy and world connections.”


Want more tips on how to make your business more sustainable? You’re in luck! This year’s Travel DAZE focuses on sustainability, and we’re not just talking about planting trees. Find out more here.

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