by Associated Press | June 26, 2019

LIMASSOL, Cyprus (AP) - An organization representing airports in 45 European countries said Wednesday that it plans to get airports to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Airport Council International Europe President Michael Kerkloh told a meeting of 300 aviation officials that the strategy's launch aligns European airports with the Paris climate accords by putting climate change at the heart of business decisions. That's "an absolute must" for all industries, said Kerkloh, who is stepping down.

The net zero carbon-emissions target applies to all member airports. Kerkloh said 140 airports operated by 40 members have affirmed their commitment to the goal, while three Swedish airports have already achieved it. The goal does not include aircraft emissions but those of the airport's buildings, infrastructure and vehicles.

Kerkloh urged aircraft makers to work toward zero emissions amid growing public demand for action to curb climate change. But he said that taxing aviation "would do nothing" to eliminate aircraft carbon emissions.

Kerkloh also welcomed action by regulators to avert drone flights that pose risks to aircraft landing and taking off. He called for "clear rules" on the creation of "no drone zones" around airports and on who would be in charge of monitoring and preventing such flights.

ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec said profitability concerns hang over the industry despite a 36 percent increase in passenger traffic in the last five years. Issues such as multibillion-euro investments in security screening technologies are putting cost pressures on airports. Airlines are becoming more risk-averse in the face of oil price volatility, trade wars and geopolitical stability, Jankovec said.