Flight Free Australia (FFA) calls for the federal government to reject the reported requests by commercial aviation for billion dollar loans on the back of ongoing revenue losses, due to cancellations because flights spread the corona virus.
FFA asked the government to remember that, instead of limiting flights as much as possible, the International Civil Aviation Organisation earlier lobbied to delay the adoption of pandemic response health measures that could harm air traffic.
FFA supports the TWU push for a sustainable transport sector, and urges the government to support a just transition, including direct financial support and training for all employees in fossil fuel emitting industries to climate friendly employment.
FFA point out the difficult truth, that the aviation industry has no immediate future if climate catastrophe is to be avoided. Returning commercial aviation to business as usual after the Covid-19 crisis will only make our climate predicament worse, they say.
Airline industry income has boomed over the past decades, with higher growth rates than most other economic sectors. Some airlines have paid no income tax in addition to completely avoiding fuel tax on international flights. On domestic flights in Australia airlines pay just 10% of the fuel tax other transport organisations pay. Commercial aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions have soared.
Airlines are already responsible for 5-8% of climate heating worldwide, when the climate impacts additional to those from CO2 are included. Yet the industry avoids reducing its own emissions when it chooses to buy offsets. And unfortunately there will be no emissions free fuel available during the 10 years from now that emissions must dramatically reduce.
“As bad as the Coronavirus is, its outcome will look like a head cold compared to that of the climate crisis — entire countries on fire or underwater, mass starvation and forced migration”, says Flight Free Australia’s Mark Carter. “If we can act collectively to stop thousands of deaths from the virus, surely we can do so to stop the millions predicted from climate disaster. Let’s use this unintended pause in air travel to rethink what we can do to stop far worse consequences from climate collapse and aviation’s contribution to it”.
Carter says that the current situation requires both public funding, that takes care of people not airlines, and a shift towards climate-safe forms of travel.