​Solomon Airlines to launch Port Moresby service
May 31, 2024
Solomon Airlines plans to operate a weekly service between Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea from 1 July. The carrier says that it will double the frequency on the Honiara-Port Moresby route by adding a second weekly service starting 4 October. Effective 19 June, Solomon Airlines will enhance its service between the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Zealand by operating two weekly flights on the Honiara-Port Vila-Auckland route with plans to further increase the frequency to three weekly flights on the same route from 4 October. Additionally, on 4 October, the carrier will start an Airbus A320 service connecting Brisbane with Munda and Honiara.

​Ryanair loses Finnair state-aid appeal
May 31, 2024
Ryanair has lost an appeal against an earlier ruling that backed the European Commission’s decision to approve Covid-era state assistance to Finnair. The ruling by the EU court of Justice relates to a May 2020 decision by Finland to provide a state guarantee that assisted Finnair in receiving a €600 million ($649 million) to cover its working capital needs. That was approved by the European Commission in May 2020, which, it says, took into account for the liquidity shortage facing Finnair at the time and its importance to the country’s economy, concluding that the decision was in line with the EU’s internal market rules on state aid. Ryanair unsuccessfully challenged this decision at the EU General Court in June 2020, arguing that it infringed the EU’s own rules for aid. As part of the latest appeal, Ryanair argued that the court “erred in law and manifestly distorted the facts” when it agreed that the issue presented a “serious disturbance” to the Finnish economy, also saying that the Commission should have weighed up the negative effects of granting the aid. Ryanair also argued other points of law, including claiming that the earlier ruling had not properly accounted for non-discrimination of nationality. However, the Court of Justice did not find that the General Court had erred in its previous findings and rejected Ryanair’s claims that the Commission should have examined the negative impacts of the decision or that the court had distorted certain evidence in its earlier ruling, as well as other points. The appeal was therefore rejected “in its entirety,” with Ryanair ordered to pay its own costs and that of the Commission.

​EU has 'big carrots' to promote SAF: Commission
May 30, 2024
The European Commission has challenged suggestions that EU is providing a weaker set of incentives to promote SAF than the USA, citing billions of euros it has allocated to supporting adoption of renewable fuels. During a webinar hosted earlier this month by Arcadia eFuels, focused on how to scale up SAF and bring down the price, Damien Meadows – an adviser on European and international carbon markets at the Commission – challenged the widely held belief that "Europe had sticks and the US has carrots" to promote SAF, saying: "I couldn't disagree more. There are big carrots [in Europe], but it hasn't had the visibility that it deserves." Core to this is the EU's innovation fund, which Meadows likens to the US Inflation Reduction Act. Funding from the bloc's Emissions Trading System will be used to invest €40 billion ($43 billion) in transitioning the EU's economy away from fossil fuels this decade, although this does not apply solely to aviation. Included in this is a new law, adopted on 1 January, that can cover up to 100% of the extra cost of using SAF over conventional fuel under certain conditions, out of an allocated pot of 20 million ETS allocations – worth around €1.6 billion. These will be allocated to airlines on a 'first come, first served' basis. Applying for this a "no brainer" for airlines, says Meadows, noting that it will be available on all flights covered by the ETS regardless of nationality. Operated retrospectively, it will be based on the Commission's best expectations of prices for alternative fuels, with different levels of support for biofuels and e-fuels. Airlines will be reimbursed out of the 20 million ETS allocations. "It should be tremendously important in helping the update of SAF on a commercial basis," says Meadows, adding that it is "hard to see there wouldn't be a wish to extend the support" when the ETS is reviewed later in the decade. Because the programme works retrospectively, no airlines have yet applied and the earliest they can do so is next year, for SAF used in 2024. "The ETS mechanism is there until it is used up," Meadows says of the funds. "Those airlines that go first will do best out of it." He adds: "I think there is probably an element of airlines not talking to each other about this because if you have the authorities reimbursing 100% of the cost of the fuel, you want that – and not your competitors." Allowances for the scheme will be distributed in September next year. Also under the innovation fund, €4 billion has been made available to reduce carbon across the economy, in areas such as hydrogen and renewables, although this also puts aviation in competition with other industries. Despite there being, Meadows explains, 23 bids for each euro of available spending, it is still a "huge mechanism" to bolster the adoption of alternative aviation fuels. There is also cash being made available for hydrogen and other projects. In addition to these schemes, Meadows touts the benefits of having a carbon price, which sets a long-term incentive to move away from fossil fuels. "Europe is totally behind the development of alternative fuels for aviation and trying to bring down the cost differences," says Meadows. "These mechanisms can be a real game-changer in terms of deployment, and stand up very well compared to the US's IRA [Inflation Reduction Act] and state-level incentives."


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