By CRISTINA MOLINA
SANTIAGO -- The global airline industry wants stronger
government efforts to promote using biofuels, with new
regulations and economic incentives for its production.
It is working to meet the growing air-passenger demand
without a proportional increase of carbon emissions, industry
executives said Thursday.
As global air traffic is expected double in the next 15
years and the demand for new passenger jets is seen reaching
some 30,000 units worth nearly $4 trillion, the challenge for
the aviation industry continues to be reducing pollution and,
by doing so, costs.
At the 7th Wings of Change conference organized by the
International Air Transport Association, or IATA, at Santiago's
FIDAE 17th biannual Air and Space Show, industry executives
said the legislative framework, the still-high costs of
biofuels and the availability of raw materials are the main
challenges to broadening the use of biofuels.
According to Gilberto Lopez, director at Mexico's
Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares, ASA, governments must offer
legislation on biofuels and also offer
He added that for some countries, the use of biofuels
represents a national security issue as it allows them to
reduce their dependence on oil and fight poverty by promoting
the production of biofuel raw materials such as the jatropha
"The airline industry efforts don't seem to be enough.
[Governments] need to generate more incentives for this to
become a reality in the short and medium term," Lopez said.
It is key to use incentives to not increase ticket prices
when using biofuels. Fuel represents 30% to 45% of a flight
operation costs and although the use of biofuels is 20% lower compared to
jet fuel, its cost is still high.
Currently, the airline industry uses 65 billion US gallons
of fuels per year, worth $4 billion per week, said Peter
Turner, Rolls Royce customer vice president.
"By reducing CO2 emissions not only will we be
helping the environment, but industry
productivity will also increase," Turner said.
For his part, German Efromovich, Avianca Taca controller,
believes that if the industry targets expanding the use of
biofuels to 1% by 2015 and to 50% by 2040, the cost issue must
"If we add biofuels [to flight operations] the ticket costs
will increase," he said.
The world's two largest aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and
Airbus, say their newer planes are biofuel ready.
"The switch from traditional jet fuel to biofuel should be
absolutely transparent," Randy Tinseth, Boeing's vice president
of marketing for commercial airplanes, told Dow Jones Newswires
while showing reporters the cabin of the company's latest star,
the 787 Dreamliner on display at the air show.
It is as simple as switching from regular to special
gasoline at the pump, he added.
In Latin America, Aeromexico and Lan Airlines' Chile unit
have successfully operated commercial flights using
Although Enrique Guzman, head of LAN's environmental unit, described LAN's
biofuel flight "full of bio labor pains", he is in favor of
working along with governments to promote its use.
He also called for government regulation based on the
efficiencies reached by airlines that have already made
progress in that front.
"LAN already is 20% more efficient than the industry
average. We ask governments not to regulate to a level lower
than what has been achieved. They should consider what has been
already done," Guzman added.
Giovanni Bisignani, representative from the World Economic
Forum, said the main challenge the industry faces is
"This is the only sector that has implemented a strategy
that has saved $20 billion in fuels. This strategy should
motivate governments and oil companies to take biofuels seriously."
Dow Jones Newswires