Following the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, the Climate Change Commission was established to advise the New Zealand Government on actions that will reduce carbon emissions and to meet the country’s 2050 net-zero and low emissions goals. 

In drafting the advice, the Climate Change Commission opened submissions in February this year, and among the submitters were Air New Zealand and Sounds Air, with both airlines standing in line with the move towards decarbonisation.

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on Air New Zealand, but it has not slowed our commitment to reducing emissions,” says Air New Zealand in its submission.

But the airline also states that flying creates emissions, and even with the full deployment of aviation decarbonisation technologies, there is no current technology mix that can enable the aviation industry to absolutely decarbonise by 2050. The industry’s share of emissions will continue to increase in the coming decades as other sectors decarbonise, it says.

Air New Zealand proposes that the commission’s central pathway model should be amended to reflect expected emissions reductions from aviation by 2035. This is due to the use of sustainable aviation fuel from 2025, which could reduce emissions up to 85% as compared to traditional jet fuel or diesel and the operation of next generation aircraft such as hybrid-electric and hydrogen aircraft from 2035 onwards.

In Sounds Air’s submission, the airline says it is committed to fully decarbonise its air services across its regional network by 2026.

Sounds Air has been working with local and international stakeholders to ensure that this evolution in aviation towards electric flight becomes a reality in New Zealand. 

The regional domestic airline operates a fleet of Pilatus PC-12s and Cessna Caravans but has signed a letter-of-intent with Swedish company Heart Aerospace which is developing a 19-seat battery-powered aircraft. Heart aims to have its aircraft certified in time to have first entry into service in 2026.

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New Zealand’s Sounds Air Adding More PC-12s (18 April 2019)