Manchester Airports Group has offered a prize of five years’ free landing fees to the first airline to operate a zero-emissions commercial flight, as it pledged to become a net-zero carbon airport by 2038.
Britain’s biggest airport group, which owns Manchester and Stansted airports, has upped the ante on the wider industry’s commitment to achieve net-zero by 2050, and a similar one-year incentive offered by Heathrow.
The prize for the first zero-carbon flight will be worth around £1.3m in waived charges, MAG estimates.
Leading airlines and airports in the UK signed a Sustainable Aviation pledge this year to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a commitment environmental groups described as greenwash given the industry’s plans for 70% more flights.
Aviation’s contribution to global human-made emissions is almost 5%, having grown nearly 26% in five years before the pandemic, according to Transport and Environment.
The industry will require controversial offsetting measures for the foreseeable future to achieve its carbon reduction goals, but long-term hopes are pinned on electric or hydrogen-fuelled aircraft.
MAG sits on the government’s Jet Zero council, a body set up this year with the ambition, widely considered unachievable, for a zero-emission long-haul aircraft by 2050.
Aircraft manufacturers, however, hope to have built a low-emission electric hybrid aircraft for short-haul commercial flights by the late 2030s, which – combined with plans for UK plants to synthesise jet fuel from waste – could enable net-zero flying.
Airbus last month unveiled conceptual designs for hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft which it says could operate from 2035.
MAG’s chief executive, Charlie Cornish, said it was the first UK airport operator in the UK to reach carbon neutrality in 2015, and that the pledge was the next step in its journey.
“While we push through the significant challenges that coronavirus has placed on our industry, we must keep looking to the future and the exciting innovations that will be critical for the future of flying,” he said.
MAG’s environmental pledge came as news emerged that Heathrow is to withdraw public transport subsidies from staff as a cost-saving measure during the Covid-19 crisis.
Heathrow had promised to increase the proportion of car-free journeys to and around London’s main airport as part of its thwarted plans to build a third runway.
Campaigners said the move was likely to worsen the air pollution around Heathrow as well as hurting employees, many of whom have had to accept new contracts and pay cuts.
Source: Read Full Article