Global Airline Summit To Tackle Travel Boom, Climate Goals

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Airlines will ride the crest of a faster-than-expected recovery and discuss ways of translating climate pledges into action at a summit buoyed by a return to business as usual next week. The influential International Air Transport Association (IATA) holds its annual meeting on June 4-6 with many of its 300 carriers enjoying higher fares following the pandemic, tempered only by plane shortages and faltering supply chains.

After global airlines stared into the abyss with cumulative losses of $190 billion and increased debts during the pandemic, their Istanbul summit marks a turning point for the $800-billion industry, which is set to return to profit this year.

“There is strong confidence in demand for aviation still, and it’s … a trend around the world,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce, a veteran crisis manager who will be attending his last IATA gathering before retiring in November, told investors.

Global tensions including war in Ukraine and economic uncertainty have done little so far to halt the ticket rush in many markets, prompting experts to declare the recovery more permanent than last year’s post-lockdown “Revenge Travel”. “Demand to travel is off the charts. It’s at record levels as people not only catch up from three years of not travelling but put travel and experiences at the top of their wish list,” said travel expert Paul Charles, founder of The PC Agency.

Brussels-based environmental group T&E said airlines have delayed action on the streaks of condensation which scientists say can create a harmful warming effect. Airlines say avoiding contrails could end up burning more fuel and releasing more CO2.

In another hot-button issue, airlines will debate how to avoid a repeat of last year’s widespread travel disruption while campaigning for harmonised rules on passenger compensation.

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