Australia warned it may face significant flight cuts if sustainable aviation fuel targets not met

Sydney, Australia - October 7, 2013: Emirates Cargo Boeing 777 cargo aircraft passing a Qantas 767 on the tarmac at Sydney Airport.

Australia risks being priced out of international aviation when carbon pricing and other key targets begin to take effect in the next decade, the Australian Airports Association (AAA) says.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the AAA said that international airlines could cut flights to the country in years to come due to the levels of pollution curated as a by product of long haul routes.

“As Australia is at the edges of the global air network with long distances from Australian airports to major regional and global hubs in Asia, North America and the Middle East, it is essential to ensure Australia remains a viable destination for international migration, tourism and business travel,” the AAA submission said.

A key concern lies in the ease in which operators will be able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint by ending their flights from the other side of the world to Australia.

The AAA suggested to the inquiry that it would be imperative to ensure the local sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry and stores will be capable of refuelling carriers that travel to Australia, and that failing to do so could potentially isolate Australia.

“Failure to negotiate an effective and equitable deal for Australia may mean a contraction in Australia’s connectivity to the world,” the AAA said.

SAF in use on an Emirates jet. (Supplied)

In recent years the Australian aviation industry has begun working hard on new SAF targets.

In May this year, the QLD government announced a partnership with Qantas to sign a memorandum of understanding to delivery Australia’s first bio-refinery to produce 100 million litres of SAF each year.

Qantas currently uses green aviation fuel sourced overseas and is targeting 10 per cent SAF in its fuel mix by 2030, and about 60 per cent by 2050.

“Growing our SAF industry is one of those opportunities that will fuel Queensland’s economic future and contribute to decarbonisation targets,” deputy premier, QLD, Steven Miles said at the time of the announcement.

“With our rich supply of feedstock and skilled workforce, Qantas, and the world, has recognised Queensland as an ideal location to establish an Australasian SAF supply chain.”

If Australia is expected to suffer potential flight cuts, it would be expected our friends across the ditch would face the same fate.

Last month, Air New Zealand and the New Zealand government announced their own strategy to boost SAF, signing a two million dollar plus investment into next phase studies of SAF production in New Zealand.

Australian transport minister, Catherine King spoke during a visit in the UK of the two nations, “shared ambitions for decarbonising aviation… while still facilitating growth in the industry.”

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