Politics of Travel: Best of Times, Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, actually, it is the best of times as the summer on the U.S. east coast kicks into gear. I hope the beginning of summer is also the best of times for you and you don’t need an emergency contact. But for those attending the Sustainability Summit and U.S. Legislative Summit, you should add yours to the registration form.

CANADIAN ENGAGEMENT: As a part of GBTA’s advocacy program, we seek meetings with elected officials to speak with GBTA members as business travel industry subject matter experts. It is this interaction that allows elected officials and bureaucrats to better understand the very complex industry they are seeking to regulate. GBTA recently hosted 2 members of Parliament, Tony Baldinelli, MP, Chair, Parliamentary Travel and Tourism Caucus and MPP Dave Smith. Additionally, meetings were set with 3 Ministries, Transport Canada, Global Affairs Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. The main themes raised by the GBTA members across these meetings were:

  • Impact of worker shortage
  • Cross border travel issues
  • How Canadian officials will handle the next pandemic
  • Guidelines for emissions counting, and
  • Canadian government’s revised position on passenger compensation for disrupted air travel.

The officials from these Ministries had last minute meetings occur, however, GBTA will be following up to relay the meeting conversations conducted by GBTA staff. (Hence, the best of times reference…)

SUMMER OF GEORGE: The leaders of the U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senate committees of jurisdiction have signaled their bills to re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration (a normal U.S. government process) are on track for the September 30 deadline. Which is fortuitous as the industry gears up for a busy domestic and international summer travel. Case in point, according to Politico’s recent reports, “U.S. airlines exceeded pre-pandemic international travel levels in February, setting a new all-time high of almost 10 million passengers – 1.7 percent over the previous record set in January 2020, according to new BTS data.” GBTA attendees at the U.S. Legislative Summit will be pushing for fast passage of the bill and upgrades to the national air space to avoid the Summer of George.

WHITE LIGHTING: GBTA sent European officials in Brussels a letter detailing our appeal to prioritize Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) as a key technology in the upcoming Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA).

While the Act emphasizes a range of areas, from solar photovoltaic to carbon capture and storage, it currently lacks specific provisions to promote the adoption of SAF. Recognizing this gap as a missed opportunity to channel investments towards the decarbonization of aviation, GBTA’s letter to Members of the European Parliament and Council Attachés, urges the inclusion of SAF in the NZIA. Arguing the adoption and support of SAF can contribute to the decarbonisation of aviation, GBTA called on the EU to make the following additions to the NZIA:

  • Add Sustainable Aviation Fuels into the annex, thereby designating SAF production as a Net-Zero Strategic Project.
  • Broaden the scope of CO2 capture to encompass Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) processes in the strategic net-zero technologies in the annex.
  • Integrate SAF production training into the curriculum of Net-Zero Industry Academies

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: According to a recent survey by Workiva, 94% of public companies in the EU and UK plan to comply with the upcoming Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD) in the EU, even though they are not required to do so. Integrated sustainability and financial reporting is fast emerging as the “new gold standard” of disclosure practices. Companies intend to comply with the new regulation’s reporting obligations, but the study also revealed that, with CSRD set to go into effect the following year, more progress needs to be made in integrating sustainability reporting functions and procedures.

CLOSING SHOT: Over here in the U.S. we (me – having lived through this before) are transfixed and concerned about the impacts on the U.S. economy and travel should the Republicans and Biden Administration not reach a deal to increase the debt ceiling. They need to take a note from Foxy Cleopatra and Work It Out!