The CEO of WestJet, Canada’s second-largest airline, has warned that the global effort to decarbonize the aviation sector 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 over $1 billion annually on jet fuel. In response to the decarbonization goals, the airline has been investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, von Hoensbroech stresses that industry-wide progress requires financial and regulatory support for the adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
SAF refers to low-carbon fuel derived from renewable sources rather than 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 transitioning to SAF, leading to an inevitable rise 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. By doing so, the aviation industry can transition to a more sustainable future without burdening consumers with high ticket prices.
As the world continues to prioritize decarbonization, it is crucial for governments to take an active role in supporting the aviation sector’s shift toward sustainable practices. 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 also ensure that the burden of higher ticket prices is minimized for travelers.
– Decarbonize: The process of reducing or eliminating carbon emissions from an industry or sector.
– Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF): Low-carbon fuel made from renewable materials instead of petroleum, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector.
Source: The Canadian Press (Sept. 19, 2023)