Singapore signs agreements with US, UK to make flights greener

Transport Minister S. Iswaran (left) signed a memorandum of cooperation on sustainable aviation with US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. PHOTO: S ISWARAN/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Republic will work more closely with the United States and Britain to make flights more environmentally friendly under two agreements signed on the sidelines of the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assembly in Montreal, Canada.

With the US, a memorandum of cooperation signed on Wednesday will have the two countries working together on the research and trial of aviation fuels made from biofeeds.

They will also encourage travellers to fly on more sustainably powered flights, which could cost more. A green lane between the two countries more than 15,000km apart could be set up, with Singapore and the US pledging to study its commercial viability.

On the same day, a memorandum of understanding was also signed with Britain to include environment protection as a new area of collaboration.

It is an update of the Open Skies Agreement signed before Brexit in 2020, and so also contains changes to reflect Britain's separation from the European Union.

Where previously any EU-based airline could apply to use the traffic rights granted by Singapore to Britain - such as operating unlimited services to Singapore - only Britain-based airlines will now be able to do so.

All airlines with existing operating authorisations will not be affected.

The agreements were signed by Transport Minister S. Iswaran, with US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and British Secretary of State for Transport Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

As passenger traffic recovers quickly from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments are turning their attention back to reducing flights' carbon emissions.

The annual ICAO assembly is a platform for multilateral cooperation and allows for transport ministers to meet.

Mr Iswaran met his counterparts from Barbados, Canada, Equatorial Guinea, France, Ghana, India, Kiribati, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Tonga and Zambia.

Also in Canada with him is Senior Minister of State for Transport and Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor, who met representatives from Belize, Ethiopia and South Korea.

Mr Iswaran said both agreements signal Singapore's continued commitment to cleaner aviation, which is shared by the signatories.

A similar landmark memorandum of arrangement was signed with New Zealand in April, and its wording forms the framework of the US agreement.

In remarks delivered at the ICAO, Mr Iswaran called establishing sustainability an "urgent long-term priority" for the sector, with climate change an existential challenge for all states.

This, and investing in the next generation of aviation workers and rebuilding capacity that matches air travel demand, should be the key goals of the industry.

"We stand ready to work with all stakeholders and partners to contribute to these efforts for the benefit of all states," he said.

Singapore is one of the key Asian leaders in using sustainable aviation fuels made from biofeeds.

All SIA and Scoot flights out of Changi Airport currently use a blend of sustainable aviation fuel and refined jet fuel.

Singapore will also have the world's largest sustainable aviation fuel production capacity when Finnish producer Neste's Tuas facility is completed in the first quarter of 2023.

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