The CEO of WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline, has warned that global efforts to decarbonize the aviation industry by 2050 could result in a significant increase in ticket prices. Alexis von Hoensbroech made these comments at the 24th World Petroleum Congress, emphasizing the need for government intervention to mitigate the impact on consumers.
As the largest consumer of petroleum products in Alberta, WestJet spends more than $1 billion a year on jet fuel. In response to decarbonization goals, the airline has been investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, von Hoensbroech emphasizes that industry-wide progress requires financial and regulatory support for the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
SAF refers to low-carbon fuels derived from renewable sources instead of petroleum. While SAF presents an environmentally friendly alternative, it is currently five times more expensive than traditional jet fuel. Without government assistance, airlines may struggle to absorb the additional costs associated with the transition to SAF, which will inevitably result in an increase in ticket prices for passengers.
To address this challenge, von Hoensbroech urges governments to provide incentives and regulatory frameworks that promote the use of SAF. In this way, the aviation industry can move towards a more sustainable future without burdening consumers with high ticket prices.
As the world continues to prioritize decarbonisation, it is crucial that governments play an active role in supporting the shift towards sustainable practices in the aviation sector. By investing in research and development, providing financial incentives and implementing supportive policies, governments can help reduce the cost gap between SAF and traditional jet fuel. This proactive approach will not only accelerate the decarbonization process, but will also ensure that the burden of higher ticket prices on travelers is minimized.
– The Canadian Press (September 19, 2023)