Even before the aviation sector had been able to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new challenge loomed as Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February. Soon after a humanitarian tragedy unfolded. By the signing of an association agreement, which came into force in September 2017, the European Union committed itself to close cooperation with Ukraine, a policy strengthened by the condemnation by many nations of Russia’s act of violence against a democratic country. A renewed unity and solidarity emerged in Europe.
Although disruptive social events such as pandemics and wars unleash profound effects on our everyday life, crises demonstrate our resilience, which unfolds in many ways. For instance, on European soil the response to COVID-19 resulted in a relatively fast availability of effective vaccines. Another recent example is the unanimous and swiftly adopted sanctions the EU imposed on Russia. This had a significant impact on the aviation sector and included a ban on access to European airspace and airports for all Russian airlines, and eventually also the closure of Russian airspace in response to the sanctions by the West. Who would have thought just a few months ago that this would be our new reality?
A more gradually perceptible disruption we are all facing is human-induced global climate change. A few days after the unprovoked Russian invasion, IPCC published the finalised second part of the Sixth Assessment Report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The research confidently states that the magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks depend strongly on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming. In short: we can respond effectively to the crisis when we act fast enough with effective measures.
But with the ambition of a climate-neutral aviation in 2050, how will the European aviation industry actually recover and develop once it is no longer subjected to COVID measures and its aftermath and the conflict in Ukraine is, hopefully soon, over?