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From Andrea Thomas
BERLIN (Dow Jones) – Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr has shown himself confident that his company will repay the billions in government aid by the end of September. He also appealed to Chancellor Angela Merkel that the state should support the aviation industry in the transformation towards climate neutrality. The CDU politician has meanwhile warned that the decarbonization of the sector cannot be postponed.
“We were one of the first companies that was saved by the federal government. We also want to be one of the first companies to pay back the rescue funds – hopefully before the federal election, that’s our turn,” said Spohr in an interview at the second National Aviation Conference with Merkel.
After the billions in government aid caused by the corona, the federal government is the largest shareholder in Lufthansa.
Merkel no longer wants to postpone decarbonization
In her speech at the conference, Merkel called for more efforts from the aviation industry to cope with the transformation towards climate neutrality.
“Climate change is threatening our livelihoods and economic foundations more and more. The answer to this can only be a comprehensive transformation that also affects the aviation industry,” said Merkel.
Germany aims to be climate neutral by 2045. This means that the decarbonization of all branches of the economy “no longer tolerates an upswing”.
“As for other industries, climate neutrality is of course a very ambitious goal for aviation. It is fair to say that this really also requires disruptive innovations, be it in the aircraft itself, in the drive technologies or the infrastructure,” said Merkel. “And not at some point, but as quickly as possible. Because the product cycles in the aviation industry are very long.”
However, she admitted that too little sustainable kerosene was still available for German air traffic. Prices and quantities left a lot to be desired.
Spohr demands competitiveness for European aviation
In this context, Spohr called for massive government support. Sustainable kerosene costs five times as much as conventional fuel. It is also not available indefinitely. Synthetic fuels obtained from green electricity are scalable, but ten times more expensive.
“No airline in Europe can afford that, we will only manage that together with the states, so that what we have as additional costs is compensated, otherwise people will fly via Istanbul or Doha, where of course no synthetic fuel is required. This is for.” the environment is bad and for us and our jobs anyway, “warned Spohr.
If European aviation is to become more climate neutral, it must also remain competitive. “It must not be that our competitors, who do little for the environment, benefit from our doing a lot for the environment. Things are interrelated,” said Spohr.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 18, 2021 6:36 AM ET (10:36 GMT)