The UK aviation industry can meet its net zero targets without capping the number of flights that are permitted to operate, said Transport Secretary Mark Harper.

Speaking at the Airlines 2023 conference in London, Harper said the technologies existed to support this transition by 2050.

He rejected the suggestion being looked at in some countries to limit the number of flights that can be operated in order to bring down aviation emissions.

Harper’s net zero solutions

Highlighting electric, hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel solutions, he said: “You need all of those forms of technology in place to decarbonise flying.

“We absolutely do not want to stop people flying. It’s very clear, what happened in the pandemic was an experiment that no one in this industry would ever want to repeat. But it tested actually that the public really do want to get back to flying.”

Asked specifically if the aviation sector could grow and still meet its net zero climate commitments, Harper replied “Yes”.

He also said the UK was “on track” to have five commercial-scale SAF plants under construction by 2025 – a key goal seen by the industry as necessary to meet SAF and net zero targets.

“We are on track to do that,” Harper said. “We’ve put significant amounts of public money…into supporting some of these separate SAF plants.

“But we’re very clear we’re not complacent. We want the UK aviation industry to remain globally competitive.

“We’ve also been very clear. There are those that think you should deal with sustainability by reducing people’s ability to fly – that is not the view of this government.

“We want to work with the industry, enabling more people to fly and to see to make all those important journeys.”
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