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Airlines Can Eliminate Up To 70% Of Emissions By 2050

Airlines Can Eliminate Up To 70% Of Emissions By 2050

New research from Bain & Company reveal the cost of decarbonising airlines will start with hiking ticket prices by 2026, a trend likely to trim global demand. Is the world at large ready for such a change?

A new study from Bain & Company revealed airlines can cut up to 70% of aviation emissions by 2050 by improving engine and aircraft efficiency, broadly adopting sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and optimising aircraft operation. However, limitations to current technology mean this might not be enough for the industry to achieve its goal of reaching net zero by 2050—especially if air traffic continues to grow faster than GDP.

As a result, airlines seeking to fund their net zero transitions will start hiking ticket prices by 2026, Bain & Company predicts, reducing
forecasted global demand by 3.5% by 2030. These are among the findings of Bain & Company’s study, “A Realistic Path to Net-Zero Emissions for Commercial Aviation”.

“As air traffic continues to grow, airlines are under increasing pressure to reduce emissions in service of their 2050 net zero goals,” said Jim Harris, Co-Leader of Bain & Company’s Aerospace, Defense & Government Services practice. “Unfortunately, many of the technologies the industry needs to decarbonise are unlikely to be operating at scale by 2050. Leading airlines will develop a strategy to secure an affordable supply of SAF to mitigate rising operating costs, and manage the impacts of declining demand as a result of higher prices.”

Best Bets For 2050

Bain’s research shows airlines can reduce CO₂ emissions by 43% through fuel efficiencies with current aircraft renewal cycles and operational improvements. A new generation of evolutionary engines and aircraft frame design improvements would deliver 80% of these efficiency gains.

Continued efforts to optimise flight and ground operations would deliver the rest. For additional improvement, airlines would need to drastically accelerate fleet renewal cycles.

However, an industry-wide move to replace fleets ahead of schedule is unlikely given the business case for amortising the full value of
investments in aircraft. Incorporating SAF on a wider scale could reduce CO₂ emissions by up to 23%.

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