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Aviation industry Corona is not the only problem Aviation has been hit particularly hard by the Corona crisis. But the industry is also under pressure when it comes to climate protection. Will the change now succeed? From Michael Immel.


Aviation industry Corona isn’t the only problem

Status: 06/18/2021 6:46 a.m.

Aviation has been hit particularly hard by the Corona crisis. But the industry is also under pressure when it comes to climate protection. Will the change now succeed?

From Michael Immel, ARD aviation expert

The mood in the aviation industry has brightened. Because quite a few planes are filling up again, and many people are looking forward to their summer vacation. And so bookings are going through the roof almost everywhere these days: Lufthansa, Eurowings and Condor – all are experiencing a huge summer trend.

Will the first be the last?

The “National Aviation Conference”, which today is attended by top representatives from politics, business and trade unions at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, wants to continue this positive trend. But it won’t be easy. Even if capacity utilization is now increasing sharply: over the year as a whole, the aviation industry will probably only end up at 40 to 50 percent of the pre-crisis level. Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr had already stated last spring: “We were the first industry to be affected by this global crisis and aviation will be one of the last to leave it.”

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Remove travel restrictions

In the joint declaration on the aviation conference to be signed in Berlin today, it is therefore stated: “After around 15 months of almost total standstill, the German air transport system is suffering from massive economic losses. Therefore, further decisions and measures are necessary to revive air traffic to support.”

It is primarily about travel restrictions that are to be lifted gradually. And to simplify travel, in particular through a digital vaccination certificate for proof of vaccination, recovery and test results. This should accelerate the processes at the airports.


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Successful and sustainable

In the nine-page paper that tagesschau.de is available, the main focus is on a green strategy for the German aviation industry. The revival should be based entirely on sustainability. Climate protection, eco-efficiency and sustainable competitiveness: These are the future topics for the entire industry – which has also understood that lip service alone will not be enough in the future.

“An essential instrument for climate protection in air traffic is the rapid and continuous renewal of the aircraft fleets”, it says in the Berlin declaration. New commercial aircraft would emit up to 25 percent less CO2 than the previous generation. With the collapse of air traffic, however, the renewal of the fleet has largely come to a standstill. “That is why the federal government has initiated a funding program to provide an economic incentive for the fleet renewal. We are continuing to advocate for the rapid approval of the program under state aid law during this legislative period.”

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Criticism from unions

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the aviation conference, there is massive criticism from unions. According to the ver.di survey, 16 percent of the workforce have left air transport since the beginning of the pandemic. “The numbers of downsizing are frightening,” said Mira Neumaier, ver.di federal specialist group leader for aviation, who is also taking part in the aviation conference today.

“In view of the extremely thin workforce even before the start of the pandemic and the great stress situation for the employees, it is to be feared that a regulated restart in air traffic – even at 50 percent of the pre-crisis level – will no longer be affordable.”


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Securing jobs

“It is not enough to save corporations,” warns Stefan Herth, president of the cockpit pilots’ union. “The short-time work allowance was an important measure in the acute crisis. What we now need is the sustainable safeguarding of jobs. In the past year and a half, politics has shown too little commitment here,” said Herth.

As a major shareholder, the federal government also has the responsibility not to lose sight of the well-being of employees when making important business decisions. “Wage dumping and social cuts at state expense must not be accepted anywhere.”