In the last two years, aviation has faced the worst crisis in its entire history; a situation that has allowed the airline sector to rise to the occasion with repatriation flights, maintaining connectivity, bringing medical supplies or transporting vaccines, but which, at the same time, has left the airlines with the great challenge of in front of guarantee a sustainable future for our sector, in the broadest sense of the word: recovering the profitability that allows us to repay the great debt that we have contracted, and showing the public that we are doing serious work in the ecological transition of the airline industry.
15 months ago, when I joined Iberia I had two goals in mind: first, guarantee their survival and, second, work on designing their future.
You can never claim victory, but the first I think we have saved as things are done in Iberia: little by little and with the commitment of all our employees we have already completed 94 years.
Now it’s time to build, also together, the future of aviation in a context of great uncertainty that, inevitably, it is affecting demand, as is being seen with the new strain of Covid; in a context in which the price of fuel has skyrocketed, and in which industry analysts suggest that 2019 activity levels will not return until 2024-2025.
Surely the wind is not blowing in your favor, but the challenge is inalienable: aviation in Spain is the main sustenance of our tourism and this, in turn, the great economic pillar of our country, due to its contribution of more than 12 percent direct to our GDP (above 20 percent indirect) and 13 percent of employment.
We have a purpose that unites us and, in Iberia, we have a strategy for the coming years, which will allow us continue to strengthen and protect the Madrid hub to compete as equals with the hubs of northern Europe.
We will continue betting on Latin America where we already flew 75 years ago; we have announced new destinations in the US such as Dallas, Washington and the recovery of San Francisco; we are going to fight for all Handling licenses; We are going to develop our Maintenance business to become the benchmark in this southern European industry; and we are going to launch a Strategic Sustainability Plan that allows us to meet the ambitious goal of our group, IAG, which has been one of the first to commit to reaching 0 net emissions by 2050. Sustainability is already presented to us as the great challenge of aviation And, to address it, it is necessary to establish a serious debate and a true public-private collaboration that, at the same time, values the great contribution of air transport in our society.
The airlines are willing to continue making significant investments in fleet renewalBut we can’t be alone Sustainable aviation fuels have proven to be the most immediate solution in the ecological transition of the aviation sector and we need energy companies, aircraft manufacturers and airport infrastructures to row in the same direction and, above all, that the public sector support us in the development, production and distribution of these fuels so that we can acquire them at affordable prices.
We also need Government support to achieve a Single European Sky, which allows us to save hundreds of kilos of CO2 to our atmosphere in each flight. And we need European funds to be used to improve our air infrastructures and to promote hydrogen research and other technologies that, in the longer term, allow a total decarbonisation of the aviation sector, which must be started today.
Therefore, we face a difficult journey, but with the best possible reward: build a sustainable future for aviation.