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Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:07 pm
by Revelation
From Reuters:

Airbus (AIR.PA) and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) have urged policymakers to use EU-backed green stimulus funds to support aircraft sales, according to documents released on Thursday by InfluenceMap, an investor-led climate lobbying watchdog.

In papers and presentations to officials including European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans' staff, the companies argued that taxpayer-funded incentives on current plane models could cut emissions by retiring more older, less efficient jets.

"Support could take the form of a 'green stimulus' subsidy scheme," according to an Air France-KLM "key messages" digest dated March 26. The airline group declined to comment.

Ref: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerosp ... 021-06-10/

This seems to be asking to use taxpayer money targeted to green initiatives to buy the planes they were already planning to buy.

It's an interesting ploy, but it seems the greens aren't buying it:

"The (aviation) industry has communicated high-level support for net-zero EU aviation emissions by 2050 while opposing specific national and EU-level climate regulations to help deliver that target," InfluenceMap said.

Major carriers that received 30 billion euros in COVID-19 crisis bailouts are "among the most significant opponents of ambitious climate policy in the region," it added.

In other words, they are saying that the aviation industry is two-faced.

On a similar theme, a dfferent Reuters article says:

Most airliners will rely on traditional jet engines until at least 2050, Airbus (AIR.PA) told European Union officials in a briefing released on Thursday on its research into creating zero-emissions hydrogen fuelled planes.

The planemaker says it plans to develop the world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035, but has not publicly said whether the technology will be ready for the replacement for the medium-haul A320, due to be rolled out in the 2030s.

February's briefing to EU officials appeared to rule this out.

"Zero-emission hydrogen aircraft will be primarily focused on regional and shorter-range aircraft from 2035. Which means that current and future iterations of highly efficient gas turbines will still be required as we move towards 2050, especially for long-haul operations," the presentation said.

This isn't throwing in the towel for hydrogen aircraft just yet, but it surely is preparing the way to throw in the towel, IMO.

Seems to me to also be two-faced: we'll take the free R&D money to play with hydrogen tech, but don't expect anything more than a regional aircraft (or something for routes shorter than regional whatever that means) because we also want R&D money for "future iterations of highly efficient gas turbines" i.e. traditional carbon burning jet engines.

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:16 pm
by MIflyer12
I wouldn't bet against Airbus and AF here. It will be a fine example of regulatory capture with commercial interests leveraging the French state. As you note, the environmental failings of this approach have already been called out.

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:27 pm
by Leovinus
Maybe it's a difference in interpretation, but I don't see it as a hint of throwing in the towel at all. Airbus and airlines are doing what they are wont to do, pushing for their economical interests ahead of green investment. But I wouldn't say that they are necessarily entirely wrong in their assessments either. True, it comes from the wrong place, but it highlights two important issues.

  • Hydrogen and electrical aircraft will quite naturally be short to medium haul initially. Iterating on the technology until its mature (and light weight) enough for long-haul. This requires both airplane makers to develop the aircraft which will likely make them more expensive than "traditional aircraft", something the EU could off-set with handouts. It requires the EU to invest in hydrogen and electrical infrastructure to make the aircraft viable too. A chicken and egg problem that needs public-private cooperation to overcome quickly.
  • There are going to be thousands of perfectly good aircraft that can run on sustainable SAF's during the transition period. SAF's are inherently less efficient and very difficult to make truly carbon neutral. But they're better than oil. As a transition fuel to save aircraft from the scrap heap and advance carbon neutralisation they're vital. But as there is no demand (technically oil is "free" as you just pump it from the ground, with existing infrastructure and absolutely massive public and private investments in it already to make it ridiculously cheap beyond that. Especially compared to the climate cost.) and there are no producers as yet it's natural to ask for partnership in making it. Neither Boeing nor Airbus are fuel suppliers. If you want greener fuel, you better make it available.
  • Admittedly it's not wrong that newer aircraft are more efficient than older either, but it's obviously used as a veil for "money please".

I think the EU should think good and hard about which strategy to go for, and it's a good thing that there is this kind of transparency so that we can steer the outcome. But I can guarantee that all parties will throw in the towel unless the taxpayer picks up part of the tab. And in a sense, why shouldn't we? We want to fly, ergo we must pay to make it climate neutral as well. Question is how we maximise tax money to produce the desired outcome as opposed to maximally lining the pockets of shareholders under the false veil of going green.

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:34 pm
by Polot
AF/Airbus will probably get what they want, but it is an issue of how do you paint it without other parties (the US) calling foul ie would funds if provided to airlines be allowed to be used to purchase new fuel/emission friendly Boeings too?

Airbus doesn’t really care about the environmental aspect, they just want to shore up their order book (existing and new). But trying to come up with an angle where using public money on EU airline exclusively helps EU plane maker.

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:35 pm
by Opus99
Revelation wrote:
From Reuters:

Airbus (AIR.PA) and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) have urged policymakers to use EU-backed green stimulus funds to support aircraft sales, according to documents released on Thursday by InfluenceMap, an investor-led climate lobbying watchdog.

In papers and presentations to officials including European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans' staff, the companies argued that taxpayer-funded incentives on current plane models could cut emissions by retiring more older, less efficient jets.

"Support could take the form of a 'green stimulus' subsidy scheme," according to an Air France-KLM "key messages" digest dated March 26. The airline group declined to comment.

Ref: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerosp ... 021-06-10/

This seems to be asking to use taxpayer money targeted to green initiatives to buy the planes they were already planning to buy.

It's an interesting ploy, but it seems the greens aren't buying it:

"The (aviation) industry has communicated high-level support for net-zero EU aviation emissions by 2050 while opposing specific national and EU-level climate regulations to help deliver that target," InfluenceMap said.

Major carriers that received 30 billion euros in COVID-19 crisis bailouts are "among the most significant opponents of ambitious climate policy in the region," it added.

In other words, they are saying that the aviation industry is two-faced.

On a similar theme, a dfferent Reuters article says:

Most airliners will rely on traditional jet engines until at least 2050, Airbus (AIR.PA) told European Union officials in a briefing released on Thursday on its research into creating zero-emissions hydrogen fuelled planes.

The planemaker says it plans to develop the world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035, but has not publicly said whether the technology will be ready for the replacement for the medium-haul A320, due to be rolled out in the 2030s.

February's briefing to EU officials appeared to rule this out.

"Zero-emission hydrogen aircraft will be primarily focused on regional and shorter-range aircraft from 2035. Which means that current and future iterations of highly efficient gas turbines will still be required as we move towards 2050, especially for long-haul operations," the presentation said.

This isn't throwing in the towel for hydrogen aircraft just yet, but it surely is preparing the way to throw in the towel, IMO.

Seems to me to also be two-faced: we'll take the free R&D money to play with hydrogen tech, but don't expect anything more than a regional aircraft (or something for routes shorter than regional whatever that means) because we also want R&D money for "future iterations of highly efficient gas turbines" i.e. traditional carbon burning jet engines.

Honestly to me the bottom line here for Airbus is forget this hydrogen fluff you’re talking about and put money for planes that are actually feasibly deliverable. Like hydrogen at the scale at which it makes sense seems a stretch. Their customers are probably not hot on it either.

It’s also a cheap way to get orders and I’m not mad at it. Nice

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:42 pm
by Aesma
Usually the Green politicians are also dead against nuclear, even though it's the most CO2 efficient way to make electricity, and could be used at large scale to make synthetic oil and/or hydrogen.

They're trying to ban nuclear from getting any of the stimulus money.

Re: Airbus, Air France want EU green funds used for jets

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 4:00 pm
by Revelation
Opus99 wrote:
Honestly to me the bottom line here for Airbus is forget this hydrogen fluff you’re talking about and put money for planes that are actually feasibly deliverable. Like hydrogen at the scale at which it makes sense seems a stretch. Their customers are probably not hot on it either.

It’s also a cheap way to get orders and I’m not mad at it. Nice

It's an interesting tight rope. They want free R&D money for hydrogen but they don't want to commit to delivering anything that is truly game changing because the basic tech does not show the kind of potential to deliver such, and in the unlikely event that a breakthrough would be found they would have to make huge investments that would be largely undermining their already profitable conventional airliner business. Far better to find a way to take the free money yet protect the goose laying the golden eggs.

I'm not sure what "regulatory capture" means in this context, but there are bags of money sitting around earmarked for "green initiatives" so if this ploy succeeds they will have convinced people that carbon burning conventional jet engines are "green". It seems dubious to me. I guess they are hoping they can grease the skids behind the scenes and present this as fait acompli. Note this report is based on info gathered via "freedom of information" requests. Clearly they were hoping to keep this on the down-low for a while longer. Clearly they can't figure out the strategy that lets them be up front about this just yet. Seems they need to find a stronger brand of greenwash to apply to this one.