Aviation Monitor | 2016-03-19
'Green Aviation'- A Futuristic Approach Towards Sustainable Tourism

Air transport has become an essential element of our global society as it is a driving force behind the economic, social and cultural development worldwide. Today the aviation industry has totally changed and depends on how well we interact with others, travel and do business. Key challenges today for the aviation industry are to address the issues of noise and air pollution, local air quality around airports, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, need to find sustainable alternative fuel options and to face the much broader challenge of climate change. TravelScapes explores the way ahead towards ‘Green Aviation’!


As global airline industry continues to grow rapidly, the India’s civil aviation industry too is on a high-growth trajectory that aims to become the third-largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030. It is interesting to note that this growth has been driven by key important factors such as low-cost carriers (LCCs), Development of Modern Airports, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in domestic airlines, advancements in information technology (IT) and the governments growing interventions and emphasis on regional connectivity. All this makes India the ninth-largest civil aviation market in the world, with a market size of around US$ 16 billion.


The world today is focused on Indian aviation ranging from airline manufacturers, tourism boards, global business giants, airline companies, individual travelers, cruise liners and businessmen. It is time to unite all the stake holders and what better could it be to work on the issue of ‘Environmental Protection’ that has become the immediate need of the hour, taking us all towards a universal mission i.e the ‘Survival’ of the entire mankind! 


Imbibing Sustainable practices can lead to ‘Green Aviation’ working on which has emphasized the values of a globally harmonized approach. Airlines today have made noteworthy progress and ambitious goals to reduce fuel burn in the operational improvements in the air and by and large controlling on the ground activities, so as to reduce carbon emissions and adhering to ‘Recycling Processes’ throughout all operations. Here’s what the Aviation Industry professionals have to Say:


Where do you see the aviation industry moving in 2016, What do you foresee in terms of industry Growth?
Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo: 

India is the 9th largest aviation market in the world with a size of around US$ 16 billion and is poised to be the 3rd biggest by 2020. India’s aviation industry promises huge growth potential due to large and growing middle class population, rapid economic growth, higher disposable incomes, rising aspirations of the middle class and overall low penetration levels. With the low oil price environment, now expected to continue this year, the Indian aviation industry is growing at an exceptional rate. As oil prices remain low, fleet replacement rates are reducing, just as new aircraft delivery rates step up in 2016/2017, implying downward pressure on aircraft prices.


Mittu Chandilya – CEO & MD, AirAsia India 
The Finance Minister’s announcement to work with the State Government to develop 160 non-functional airports is a welcome move. In December 2015, the Centre had formulated a Draft National Civil Aviation Policy which also addressed the revival of under-served and unserved airports. However, the term unserved being ambiguous, we hope the Ministry will provide clarity on how these ‘under-served’ or ‘unserved’ airstrips are going to be identified when the policy is finalized.The Government’s intention to develop airports with minimal frills to keep the cost of flying low is good news for LCC’s like us. This move will pave the way to improving regional connectivity as proposed by the Government.


 Sajid Khan, Country Manager, India, South African Airways:  
“A recent IATA report mentions India to be the fastest growing air travel market exhibiting a double digit growth. In light of this, the government’s consideration to develop 160 non-functional airports and 10 defunct airstrips as a part of its low-cost airport plan is a strong move that should boost regional aviation and tourism industries. It should also allow international carriers to expand their reach and tap newer markets through code shares with domestic airlines. The plan will help the government materialize its plan of introducing regional flying for INR 2500 per hour flight.”


Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: 
With a travelling population larger than the entire  population of the United States, India is poised to become the world’s third largest travel market by 2020. The potential of the Indian travel market is enormous! Today with 150 million flyers daily, the industry is growing rapidly marking a year-to-date growth of 16.5% and is poised to grow up to 300 million potential flyers. Looking at its growth over the past few years, the Indian aviation industry has emerged as a huge market with a massive passenger movement in both domestic and international sectors. The recent initiatives by the government for boosting regional connectivity with reviving underserved airports as well as development of non-functional airstrips that will give a well deserving boost to the overall aviation sector this year.


Subhash Goyal President IATO : 
The Civil Aviation Policy is very positive as it covers a forward looking Greenfield Airport Policy, a clear cut Public Private Participation Policy on the airport and Sustainable growth for improving airport capacity to meet the demand forecasted for passengers, Cargo traffic and commercialization of all the non-metro airports etc. These are a new  policy initiatives for improving the services in civil aviation sectors and looks very inspiring. Policy is implemented in latter and spirit. We hope policy forms a collaborating approach between Airports, Airlines and Cargo movements and also coordinate various agencies including Customs, CISF etc to make the passengers convenience, and connectivity matching international standards. 


What are the key challenges faced by the aviation companies at present and what are the key factors that need to be resolved in terms of bringing cost effective solutions both for the industry as well, as the end consumers?
Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo : 

The key growth driver for the Indian aviation including budget airlines has been and will be in future – the need for high quality low fare travel. The economy and aviation industry both have a symbiotic relationship, so if India has to grow by 8-10 per cent then the aviation market has to grow at just double that rate. Also, reaching out to people who have not had the opportunity to fly so far and that is a huge section of the population in India. We have one of the youngest populations in the world that is highly productive, so the combination of these factors complemented IndiGo’s entry and growth in the market. The key challenges are to keep the cost low & continue to offer lower and affordable fares.


Subhash Goyal President IATO: 
Challenges are great and need immediate action to have a proper balance for a Sustainable growth. These include: Development of more airports and airlines Services by 2025 as by passenger boarding expected to double and aircraft operations are expected to triple so this rise to be kept in mind.  More consolidation of airlines for operations, Affordability and Transparency, facilities for booking, Increase for more capacity and bigger aircrafts by all Airlines. Need to outsource foreign pilots, retired personal, cabin crew from the Airfare or PSU Airlines. Oil prices are not expected to go up and this will result cut throat competition. Though this factor will be in line with international prices.How to meet these challenges need to be seen by future planners in the Civil Aviation field at the earliest. 


Mittu Chandilya – CEO  &  MD, AirAsia India 
Air fare war, fierce competition, cluttered operating markets and rules like the 5/20 are some of the hurdles the Indian airlines market is facing today. From our perspective, the 5/20 if not lifted will turn out to be a major challenge. However, the aviation industry still remains hampered due to regulatory barriers. For example, to meet the demand of air traffic, approximately 350-400 operational airports are required; whereas India has only close to 100 that are being used for commercial purposes. The Route Dispersal Guideline is another challenge faced by low cost carriers in the country. While the Government wants to focus on regional connectivity, which is a good thing for airlines and passengers, the RDG has not effectively considered the impact it will have on the air operators. India  is a diverse market with several Full Service & Low Cost Carriers – every airline has its own business model, growth strategy and cost structures. It may not be sustainable for all airlines to operate remote airports. State ATF tax is a significant cost element to airlines. It will bring down operating costs to a large extent if it is relooked into.


Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: 
With staggering growth figures of 16.5% on year-to-date, it’s easy to assume that the Indian aviation industry should be booming. But to the contrary, Indian aviation companies have faced significant hurdles in recent years. Despite planned initiatives such as reviving underserved airports as well as developing non-functional airstrips that will boost regional connectivity, the hike in ATF duty has only resulted making air transport costlier for nearly 40% of the upwardly mobile middle class, a majority of the country’s population. It is imperative to address the fundamental challenges faced by the industry such as aggressive price cuts, rising costs, high interest payments, insufficient infrastructure and shortage of skilled and trained manpower that will eventually benefitby bringing in investments from foreign airlines thus generating employment.


Reduction in carbon emissions has become one of the key concerns to control Environmental Pollution. Could you highlight on this initiative to elaborate the use of alternative fuel options as optimized by Airlines today?
Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo  : 

The A320neo “new engine option” incorporates many innovations, including latest generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together deliver 15% in fuel savings from day one and 20% by 2020. This is equivalent to a reduction of 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per aircraft per year.


Essa Suleiman Ahmad, Vice President – India & Nepal, Emirates Airline.
The Emirates Group’s envisions to be an environmental leader. Our developments in aircraft and fuel will continue to help reduce the environmental impact of our operations. At Emirates, we spend billions of US dollars on fuel each year, so naturally we are monitoring the development of bio-fuel technology with great interest. We look forward to the development of bio-fuels that are technically safe, cost competitive, and truly sustainable, with a viable supply chain in place from feedstock to the aircraft.


Mittu Chandilya – CEO & MD, AirAsia India:
Alternative fuel is still in infancy and is being assessed. We will embrace this form of fuel as an alternate to fossil fuel, whenever it is approved and available for use. 


Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: 
Globalisation has certainly given a boost to the civil aviation industry with an increased demand for air travel. Environmentalists have been lobbying for the aviation industry to adapt to alternative fuels which would significantly reduce the carbon emission into the atmosphere and contain the green-house effect. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has put in place a basic ‘Civil Aviation Requirement’ (CAR) that stipulates the general requirements, procedures and practices to be adhered to by all stakeholders/organizations to manage the adverse impact of aviation activities on the atmosphere leading to sustainable growth of the industry. 


How do Airlines benchmarks themselves in terms of environmental conservation and   sustainable performance?
Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo :
We were one of the first airlines globally to order the A320neo aircraft, according to Airbus. All of the current generation A320 aircrafts delivered to us since January 2013 also incorporate sharklets. The A320neo “new engine option” incorporates many innovations, including latest generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together deliver 15% in fuel savings from day one and 20% by 2020 according to Airbus. This is equivalent to a reduction of 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per aircraft per year. We believe that the lower operating costs of the A320neo aircraft will allow us to maintain and improve upon the structural advantages, we believe we have over our competition.


Essa Suleiman Ahmad, Vice President – India & Nepal, Emirates Airline: 
Emirates Airlines is committed to reducing our environmental footprint and have taken important steps to become more sustainable and improve our environmental performance. We publish Emirates Group Environmental Report and Fleet results on our web site annually that is externally audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. We have one of the most modern, quietest, low-emissions fleets with an average age of just over six years, well below the global average of 14 years. We are investing billions of dollars in low-emissions aircraft, towards reducing our carbon footprint. Our fleet-wide fuel efficiency was 14.5% better than the IATA industry average in 2013-14. These efforts are accompanied by energy and water efficiency projects, recycling and waste-minimization initiatives, and our ongoing investment in conservation-based tourism developments such as the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in the UAE. 


Mittu Chandilya – CEO & MD, AirAsia India:
 We are proud to be the only airline in the country to initiate a cabin waste recycling programme in our flights.


Subhash Goyal President IATO: 
All airlines are being governed by ICCAO guideline in this matter and all airlines have been directed to adopt international best practices.  There is a policy which is to be followed by airlines and that is to get all environmental clearances from government where easy norms are drawn-out.


Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: 
Many leading airlines in India have implemented various fuel saving measures such as induction of new efficient planes. With regards to airports, major airport operators across India have undertaken various alternative energy initiatives to effectively minimize their Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Cochin International Airport (Kochi), Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi), Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai), have put in place various carbon emission reduction measures such as installing solar power plants, developing green belt, efficient flight tracking system in order to optimize the flight take-off and landing time, proper treatment and management of solid waste as well as rainwater harvesting and have also achieved various levels of Airport Carbon Accreditations (ACAs) by Airport Council International (ACI). 


What are the in-flight eco friendly initiatives adhered by Airlines today?
Aditya Ghosh, President IndiGo

We focus on implementing green operating procedures. On amongst them is the RNP Approach which brings great benefits by flying a shorter flight path which subsequently results up to 400 Kg of fuel saving per landing, and correspondingly 1260 Kg of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.IndiGo was first Airline who demonstrated flying an RNP Approach at Cochin International Airport on December 09, 2010.Later on June 23, 2012, the first ever Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach was conducted in regular airline operations, while landing at Cochin International Airport. IndiGo was the first carrier in India authorized to implement this effective, fuel-saving practice.


Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Vice President – India & Nepal, Emirates Airline: 
Emirates engages with air traffic control organizations internationally to implement and utilize the best routes possible, saving time in the air and reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Sophisticated technology on-board avionics systems are used to enable aircrafts to navigate with much greater accuracy with ‘Required Navigation Performance’ (RNP) procedures to selected airports around the world, shortening flight distances and saving time in the air and fuel.The FlexTrackssystem, which enables new routes to be defined each day so that our pilots can take best advantage of shifting winds. Emirates’ pilots use the ‘Idle reverse thrust,’ that saved 4,129 tons of fuel in 2013-14, equivalent to 13,006 tons of CO2. Another technique is shutting down one engine while taxiing as we use ground power and pre-conditioned air where available instead of running the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit.


Mittu Chandilya – CEO & MD, AirAsia India:
 At AirAsia we are very passionate about reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible, especially considering the industry, we operate in. We are proud to be the first airline in the country to initiate a cabin waste recycling programme, whereby we recycle as much cabin waste as possible by segregating waste in different coloured garbage bags on our flights. These bags are then sent to a waste management facility where they are recycled according to their waste category.


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