General AviationEtihad CEO Sees The Need To Address Sustainability

Etihad CEO Sees The Need To Address Sustainability


The Aviator Africa Etihad

The Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas sees the need to address sustainability as it is more relevant to aviation’s long-term survival than recovery from the pandemic, and governments and regulators should introduce incentives rather than punitive measures to embed good environmental practices in the industry.

On Wednesday during the latest in a series of Eurocontrol Straight talk sessions, Douglas spoke and called a failure to properly deal with sustainability “a more existential threat” to aviation than the Covid-19 crisis because it requires a medium- to long-term endeavor, not just a short-term adjustment. Several airlines have gone into administration due to Covid and the relating travel restrictions, and more will likely follow.

He said, “Our opinion is that more airlines in the fullness of time will fail as a result of their inability to embrace the reality of what we all have to do: collaborate to improve the longer-term sustainability of commercial aviation”.

The Etihad CEO said he expects airlines will see increasing pressure from governments and regulators to meet sustainability goals.  He stressed that, “Those that haven’t been a thought leader in this space will probably end up punishing themselves…rightly so”.

He the added that, Etihad has fully embraced the sustainability challenge, pointing to the airline’s industry-leading role with two parallel projects using Boeing 787s—the Etihad Greenliner program in cooperation with Boeing and GE to test new green technologies, including the use of sustainable alternative fuels (SAFs) and eco-friendly in-flight products, and the ecoDemonstrator.

The ecoDemonstrator aircraft, a 787-10 registered A6-BMI, acts as a flying test-bed to accelerate technological developments in partnership with Boeing, NASA, and Safran Landing Systems, with the goal of making commercial aviation safer and more sustainable. “The Greenliner holds the world record for long-range flying with [a blend of] of 50 percent SAF,” he said, adding that the airline is “big” on working with a number of fuel companies on hydrogen and e-fuels.

Industry and regulatory partnerships are essential to achieving sustainability objectives, emphasized Douglas, as he criticized proposals by some governments to tax kerosene. “Particularly now, I struggle with the concept,” he said. “At the very moment when the industry requires bailing out, the idea of taxing [aviation fuel] is quite ridiculous.”

Instead of resorting to punitive measures, governments should encourage long-term commitments to sustainable practices and SAF through incentives, added Douglas. “I observe with great interest that the incoming Biden administration has already introduced a policy that will look to provide incentives for a progressive use of SAF,” he said.

Douglas assumed his role with the Abu Dhabi, UAE-based Etihad Aviation Group in January 2018.

Joan Kifuko
Joan Kifuko is a communications enthusiast that is currently working as a writer at The Aviator magazine where you find your aviation news in one place. She is a journalist that has previously worked as a sales associate, guest relations officer, brand ambassador hence, the love for new adventures and roles. Joan graduated with a Bachelors degree of science in journalism.

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