Green air travel: an ambitious goal

National Aviation Conference 2021 Green air travel: an ambitious goal

“We need innovations if we want to achieve emission-free air travel”: these were the words with which Federal Chancellor Merkel summed up the 2nd National Aviation Conference, referring to one of the most important tasks facing the industry for the future. The event focused on the recovery of the aviation industry after the severe slump caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Federal Chancellor Merkel during her speech at the 2nd National Aviation Conference, which she gave virtually from the Chancellery.

The aim will be to increase the share of sustainably produced kerosene, said the Federal Chancellor at the National Aviation Conference. 

Photo: Federal Government/Denzel

What is the National Aviation Conference?

The National Aviation Conference takes place every two years in a different federal state, alternating with the ILA Berlin Air Show. It was first held on 21 August 2019 at Leipzig/Halle Airport. This year’s venue was Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

The event derives from the coalition’s commitment to institutionalising cooperation in the area of industrial policy between the Federal Government, the federal states, the aviation sector and the trade unions, with the aim of building Germany’s innovative strength and competitiveness in the field of aviation, supported by a regular conference between the Federal Government and federal states.

The 2nd National Aviation Conference was organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Transport in collaboration with the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) and the German Air Transport Association (BDL) as well as the State of Brandenburg and Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER).

Which issues did the conference focus on?

Reviving the aviation industry after the severe slump caused by the coronavirus crisis was a central theme of this year’s digitally broadcast National Aviation Conference, under the motto “Take off for the aviation of the future – innovative, sustainable and resilient”.

But there are other major challenges, too, as Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel noted in her virtual speech. “The way in which we tackle the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis is going to be crucial: we need to align our economic recovery policies with our climate goals as well.”

For more information about the National Aviation Conference, see here.

How will it be possible to achieve carbon-neutral air travel?

One of the ways in which the Federal Government, federal states and industry are seeking to achieve carbon-neutral air travel is to establish and expand the production of power-to-liquid kerosene over the next few years. “The goal is to increase the PtL (Power-to-Liquid) kerosene quota from 0.5 percent in 2026 to two percent in 2030,” said the Federal Chancellor in this connection.

In other words: “The aim is to produce at least 200,000 tonnes of sustainable kerosene per year for the German aviation industry.” This target ties in with the Federal Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy adopted in 2020 to create a framework for the production and use of hydrogen in the future.

The term Power-to-Liquid refers to technologies used for the production of synthetic fuels using electricity from renewable sources. Starting products include water and air, for example.

There’s more than this to green air travel, however: it also involves setting up long-distance rail links between airports as well as creating the appropriate instruments at European and international level. The Federal Government is committed to strengthening EU emissions trading in aviation and to the CORSIA.

Where does the aviation industry currently stand?

Production slump, short-time work, testing and hygiene requirements, entry restrictions: the aviation sector is still struggling with the consequences of the pandemic. Nonetheless, the worst has been averted, said Merkel, adding that “in addition to massive government support, it was the flexibility of the companies and employees concerned that was vital here.”

Industry data for 2020:

  • 31 billion euros in revenue was generated by the German aerospace industry (2019: 41 billion)
  • 9.3 percent of industry revenue went into research and development (2019: 8 percent)
  • 105,000 people were employed in the industry in Germany (2019: 114,000)
  • 74 percent was the export share of the aerospace industry’s revenue (2019: 77 percent)