EU will not loosen sustainability goals for aviation despite war, official says

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A European Union flag flutters outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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MILAN, March 25 (Reuters) - The European Union will not loosen sustainability targets for the aviation industry despite the Ukraine conflict and a surge in fuel prices, the bloc's top transport official said on Friday.

"Although there are new challenges, the old challenges do not go away, and making aviation sustainable is a challenge," EU Commission Director General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei said.

He added that it was not the moment to "make concessions on sustainability," speaking at a Eurocontrol webinar.

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Hololei was responding to a plea from the chief executive of Polish carrier LOT, Rafal Milczarski, who urged the EU to consider the massive increase in kerosene prices, the negative impact of the war on passengers' willingness to travel and the side effects of sanctions on Russia.

The industry's participation in carbon emissions trading, which airlines use to pay for part of their greenhouse gas emissions, must be reconsidered or at least temporarily suspended, Milczarski said, speaking at the Eurocontrol event.

"EU 'Fitfor55' (strategy) needs to be fundamentally reviewed... it is extremely idealistic and I aim afraid it is going to kill a number of airlines," the LOT CEO said.

Speaking about LOT's its own business, Milczarski said that with Russia's invasion of Ukraine the Polish carrier had been forced to cancel many flights and experienced a drop in bookings.

"We are not expecting a great summer at all," he said.

The EU will also stick to increasing from 50% to 64% in April the proportion of landing and takeoff slots that airlines need to use to maintain them.

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Reporting by Francesca Landini in Milan and Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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