Birmingham Airport to introduce zero emission flights in partnership with ZeroAvia

Birmingham Airport has announced a partnership with ZeroAvia for the introduction of zero-emission, hydrogen-powered air travel.

The companies have entered into a long-term partnership to make on-airfield hydrogen refuelling and regular domestic passenger flights of zero-emission aircraft a reality in the coming years.

ZeroAvia is currently working on developing a zero-emission system capable of flying 20-seat aircraft 300 nautical miles by 2025. This opens up the possibility of green air travel from Birmingham to destinations such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Isle of Man and Dublin by the middle of this decade.

In addition, with the aim of making zero-emission travel to Mediterranean holiday destinations a reality, ZeroAvia will get an emissions-free 80-seat aircraft flying up to 1,000 nautical miles by 2027. For Birmingham, the partnership with ZeroAvia will enable it to become a net-zero-carbon airport by 2033, as outlined in its ‘carbon roadmap’ published in 2022. The airport plans to use an area on its airfield for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, testing and operations.

‘Birmingham Airport can be a central hub in a green flight network in the UK, given that any domestic mainland destination will be reachable from the airport using our first systems in 2025,’ said Arnab Chatterjee, VP, Infrastructure, ZeroAvia.

‘Given the commitments of the Jet Zero Strategy on domestic aviation, it is fantastic to engage with forward-thinking airports that want to be early innovators and developers to deliver the vision of bringing truly clean, quiet and pollution-free flights to the UK.’

Simon Richards, Chief Finance & Sustainability Officer at BHX, said: ‘We are thrilled to partner with ZeroAvia on creating solutions to the main challenge of our generation – protecting the future of our planet. We could, quite conceivably, see the first hydrogen-powered domestic passenger flight taking off from BHX in the UK in the next few years. That’s mind-blowing.’

ZeroAvia provides zero-emission technologies including hydrogen-electric engines for aircraft, with a prototype successfully test-flown at its base in Kemble, Gloucestershire, in January. Hydrogen-electric engines use hydrogen in fuel cells to generate electricity, which is then used to power electric motors to turn the aircraft’s propellers. The only emission is water.

AEA, IATA welcomes ICAO agreement on aviation emissions

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), representing Europe’s most important network carriers, has welcomed the agreement reached on October 4 by the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), to develop a global framework to reduce and manage aviation emissions.

After years of discussions and negotiations, delegates from the 191 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) ratified the agreement last Friday. The framework agreement authorises the ICAO to develop a global mechanism known as market-based measures (MBM) over the next three years. Among other things, it may lead to taxing airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions.

Global aviation contributes less than 2 percent of all carbon emissions, but ICAO is looking to contain greenhouse emissions fully as the industry expands, especially in the developing world. Passenger demand is expected to double by 2030.

Voicing support to the MBM agreement, the AEA said: ‘Uniquely, the global aviation sector has unanimously resolved to work towards ‘market-based measures’ (MBMs) to incentivise emissions abatement while maintaining a level playing-field in what is a strongly competitive international industry. The ICAO agreement is an acknowledgement of the industry’s commitment.’

The AEA added: ‘The key to sustainability is technology, and the industry will continue to seek operational answers to flying more efficiently, but must have the infrastructure in place to deliver the potential benefits – in this respect the lack of a Single European Sky is a huge environmental burden.’

The airline industry has called the agreement ‘historic,’ being the first accord on climate change for any global sector. ‘Today was a great day for aviation, for the effort against climate change and for global standards and international co-operation,’ said Tony Tyler, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 84 percent of the world’s air traffic. ‘Now we have a strong mandate and a short, three-year time frame to sort out the details,’ he added.

The European Union has also welcomed the Montreal agreement.

Calling upon the EU to reaffirm its leadership towards enabling consensus for developing a robust MBM mechanism, Mr. Athar Husain Khan, acting secretary general of AEA, said: Channelling the diversity within ICAO into a common purpose will be a challenging task, but ultimately the rewards will be enormous.’