On a day when the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) announced its members’ commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the association’s director general, Subhas Menon, turned his attention to another of the world’s challenges: Ensuring an equitable distribution of Covid vaccines to poorer countries.
“Global vaccination rates are patchy. We need to address the inequalities,” said Menon.
Figures produced by AAPA show that in the Asia Pacific region, Singapore had 77% of its population vaccinated by 6 September, while China was close behind with 76% of the population vaccinated.
At the other end of the line, Myanmar had only 8% of the population vaccinated, with Bangladesh on 12%, compared to a world average vaccination rate of 41%.
Menon said too many countries were doing their own thing when it came to vaccines and travel policies. “Most places are operating on the Las Vegas principle of ‘whatever happens here stays here’.”
“Governments should move to the Olympic principle, which is everyone plays by the rules, uses the same tools and has equal opportunity to reach the finishing line.”
Menon called for the world to come together under the aegis of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to iron out the inequities in vaccination rates “so there can be a return of freedoms for individuals and society”.
AAPA is also calling for a united approach to reducing aviation carbon emissions by 2050, an ambition, it says, that can be achieved with measures such as the commercial development and supply of sustainable aviation fuels, operations and infrastructure initiatives and market-based measures tied to CORSIA, and offsetting scheme in international aviation.
Asia Pacific will require 40% of global sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) supply but Menon said there had been little investment in SAF in the region.
“Along with investment in research and development, SAF needs feedstock, and production and storage facilities close to airports,” Menon said.
Looking ahead, the AAPA director general said recovery from the pandemic would be “a slow process” but he expected to see travel momentum build up in 2021 as vaccinations rates improved across the globe.
“That will be the gamechanger – getting people vaccinated,” he added.