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Elevating Ticket Costs: The Effects of Shifting Towards Sustainable Aviation (Decarbonisation)

Penerbangan Berkelanjutan

The aviation industry faces significant challenges in its decarbonization efforts, with plans to pass the cost of this transformation onto passengers, potentially resulting in ticket price hikes. After weathering the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector faces a new threat—shifting towards more environmentally friendly fuels and technologies. Passengers might have to bear additional costs, as approximately $5 trillion of investment is required to achieve carbon neutrality goals by 2050.

To attain these targets, the industry must overcome several serious challenges. Sustainable fuel options are priced at least twice as much as regular jet fuel. Furthermore, emerging technologies like electric or hydrogen-powered aircraft require several years to develop commercially. For now, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is anticipated to be the primary solution. Generally, SAF is a renewable aviation fuel type that meets sustainability standards. It can be derived from various sources, including forest and agricultural waste, used cooking oil, and eco-friendly hydrogen. SAF is sustainable if its acquisition and production processes do not harm other sectors. In other words, the entire production chain must not adversely affect agriculture, food supplies, water, land, or the environment.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that SAF has the potential to contribute around 65% of the emission reductions required by the aviation sector to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Amidst growing demand, SAF production reached about 300 million litres (240,000 tons) in 2022, according to IATA. SAF production projects are rising thanks to increased investments, supportive policies, and international collaboration. This collective engagement is critical to achieving the target of 10% SAF usage in aviation by 2030.

The transformation towards aviation decarbonization requires cross-country cooperation. In 2022, 184 member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed on the Long-Term Global Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to achieve carbon neutrality in the aviation industry by 2050. LTAG uses new and innovative aircraft technologies, operational flight efficiency, and increased production and use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). In 2023, the European Union also launched the ReFuelEU Aviation agreement, mandating more fuel suppliers to blend SAF with conventional fuel within the region.

Alongside international initiatives, national governments worldwide, including Indonesia, play a crucial role. Governments must design and implement policies that encourage sustainable aviation fuel development, production, and use. In this context, supply-side incentives, like financial or fiscal support, can be effective policy tools in driving organic SAF market growth.

For instance, the United States has allocated approximately $3.3 billion to incentivize SAF production through tax credit schemes and grant programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. In Asia, several countries have also begun transitioning to sustainable aviation through government collaboration, projects, and partnership agreements. Besides governmental support, involvement from researchers, businesses, civil society, and other stakeholders is pivotal for significant advancements in sustainable aviation.

As a consequence, flight ticket prices are likely to increase permanently. The costs of decarbonization have already started to be reflected in ticket prices within the European Union, and similar measures in other countries will lead to more widespread price hikes. Passengers need to understand that this additional payment is not just a temporary impact but a reflection of long-term investments in sustainable technology and fuel.

Beyond cost challenges, the aviation industry also faces the task of producing enough sustainable fuel to meet rising demand. The current availability of Sustainable Aviation Fuel falls far short of what's required to meet the needs of all airlines worldwide. In the coming years, if sustainable fuel technologies and supply don't develop rapidly enough, airlines might be forced to restrict flights to specific destinations or face significant increases in operational costs.

Amidst these challenges, the transition towards low-carbon flight is a reality. Despite the cost increase, reducing the aviation industry's environmental impact remains a priority. Passengers need to understand that ticket price hikes are part of the shift towards more sustainable aviation, and supporting this transformation can help create a greener future for global air travel.


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