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By MARI ECCLES
with Joshua Posaner, Zoya Sheftalovich and Aoife White
— On the final day of Farnborough, attendees share their biggest take-homes from the first post-pandemic airshow.
— Carmaker Ford reckons it can boost its electric car business by sourcing 600,000 battery cells through late 2023 and another 2 million by the end of 2026.
— Competition authorities are increasingly examining the bus market in Europe.
Good morning, and welcome to Morning Mobility. Low-cost carrier EasyJet is under fire for referencing the high temperatures around Europe in its marketing. A notification sent out Tuesday asked: “Not ready for the heatwave to end?”
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LESSONS FROM FARNBOROUGH: Welcome to the final day of the Farnborough airshow. Today for the first time the show opens its doors to the public as things wind down and exhibitors and media head home (or on holiday). I’ve been asking people throughout the week what they thought of the first major industry get-together since the pandemic. Here are some highlights:
Sustainability challenges: Several attendees said the focus was on sustainability, which is perhaps not surprising given that net zero commitments and flight shaming has come to the fore since the last time the industry gathered in Hampshire. Questions remain over how the sector should reach its goals, especially given the different approaches taken by governments across the globe. “Will it be SAFs, will it be hydrogen, electric? This is the big challenge,” said Kiyo Iizuka with the IHI Corporation manufacturer in Tokyo.
Supply chain hiccups: We talk a lot about the automotive industry’s supply chain problems, but aviation has also been hit hard. Peter Sheehan, a sales manager at aerospace manufacturer Socomore, told me that the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have caused him headaches: “COVID knocked 40 percent off our business [and] we’ve had two price increases this year. We’ve never seen the likes of that before.” A backlog of parts in China has made it more difficult to start up again, while a container shortage has prevented parts being shipped, Sheehan said.
Staffing difficulties: Ishan Sahgal, CEO at unmanned helicopter company Anavia, said staffing issues were a main concern — and more complicated than mere shortages. In manned aircraft, for example, there’s a “bit of an artificial [staff] shortage which is not caused by the lack of … pilots.” Sahgal noted the example of Qatar Airways, which had attracted 20,000 applicants for 700 jobs. The problem, he said, “isn’t that there aren’t enough trained pilots in the world; it’s that there’s a higher concentration of trained pilots who may not have the legal right to fly in a different country.”
Flying under the radar: I also asked attendees what the aviation industry should be talking about more. Elvis Baguma, an innovation services specialist at the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority, pointed to the infrastructure challenges that come with sustainability. “Right now, if you look around, it’s all about the new aircraft. My question is, what do the aerodromes of the future look like? … If we’re going to be using hydrogen, electricity, synthetic fuels, that’s going to completely redesign what aerodromes look like … Who pays for it? Is it going to be industry? Private equity? Government? That’s a challenge.” He also noted the public acceptance and regulatory challenges that accompany autonomous flight. “Are we comfortable with that? For over 100 years we’ve accepted a human being in the seat. And machine learning … how do you certify something that’s constantly learning?”
Backyard visitors: Baguma’s colleague James Bell, head of innovation at the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority, agreed that regulating new tech would be tricky: “We don’t want regulation to be a blocker. For the new entrants — flying taxis, drones, whatever else might come — we need to maintain the existing safety record […] but not have it hold back innovation.” He also noted the “radical shift of aviation into spaces where it’s going to touch more people,” adding that “aviation’s going to be coming down to people’s back gardens.”
My personal takeaway: We know this already, but there really aren’t many women working in aviation. I approached five stalls at Farnborough that were chaired by women, and each told me they were either “hostesses” — and so unable to comment — or suggested I speak to a different colleague.
BREAKING OVERNIGHT — TURKEY EXPECTS GRAIN DEAL SIGNING TODAY: Ankara says a deal reached with Kyiv and Moscow will officially be signed today in Turkey to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, blocked for months amid Russia’s invasion.
“The grain export agreement, critically important for global food security, will be signed in Istanbul” by the Ukrainian and Russian sides, “under the auspices” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who have been working to broker the deal, according to Erdoğan spokesman İbrahim Kalın.
The U.N. confirmed last night that Guterres had landed in Turkey.
Deal or no deal? But Kyiv was cautious in its assessment. Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said in a statement that negotiations on unlocking Ukraine’s grain are planned in Turkey today, and “a document may be signed, which will contain the obligations of the parties regarding the safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea.”
Stay tuned, and read more on POLITICO Pro.
FORD GEARS UP ON BATTERIES: Ford reckons it can scale up its electric car business by sourcing 600,000 battery cells through late 2023 and then more than 2 million by the close of 2026, the company said Thursday. That keeps it firmly among the global leaders on cutting emissions. Ford already plans to go all-electric from 2030, but achieving that requires a robust plan for sourcing battery cells and the related raw materials. While outlining their battery plan Thursday, Ford executives said stocks were now firmed up through the middle of the decade, thanks partly to a deal agreed with China’s battery producer CATL. Outside Europe, Ford is now also directly sourcing raw materials in the U.S., Australia and Indonesia to power its battery cells.
Back in Europe: The company’s Cologne plant is currently being refurbished to produce EVs, with production slated to begin next year. Ford now says a second electric model will be produced at the plant starting mid-2024, with annual volumes reaching 200,000 vehicles. The company also announced plans to build cars in Valencia.
Battery tech: Finally, Ford said it’s made progress on cell technology and will now be using lithium iron phosphate to cut unit costs by 15 percent while also reducing the use of nickel. Carmakers across the industry are touting incremental improvements in battery technology as a way to cut the cost of electric cars while boosting mileage and longevity.
Spanish gambit: Elsewhere, China-based energy company Envision said this week it would be building a battery gigafactory not far from Cáceres in southwest Spain. The site will eventually employ a workforce of 3,000 and will be developed with cash support from the Spanish government. It could theoretically be used to supply the new Ford plant.
E-CAR SALES NEAR 10 PERCENT IN Q2: While total overall car sales across the EU dropped last month to the lowest number recorded for June since 1996, the share of battery-electric cars grew to 9.9 percent in the second quarter, according to the latest data from car lobby ACEA. It’s a ray of light in otherwise gloomy times for the industry. Sales of BEVs grew 11.1 percent across the EU during the three-month period compared to the previous year, driven mainly by big increases in Spain and France.
Fossil fuels fade: The continued increase in electric vehicle sales in some key markets caused registrations of petrol and diesel cars to fall from their 62 percent market share in the second quarter of 2021 to 55.8 percent in the same period this year, according to the ACEA stats.
Who’s ahead: In Germany, fully electric cars account for 13.5 percent of total registrations (the figure remained stable in Q2), while in France they are at 12 percent. The Dutch (19 percent market share) and the Swedes (with a whopping 27.5 percent) still lead the EU in BEV market share.
**A message from GE: GE is developing technologies to reduce CO2 emissions for a more sustainable future of flight. This includes innovating advanced new engine architectures such as open fan through the CFM International joint venture, megawatt-class hybrid electric propulsion, advanced new engine core designs, and supporting alternative fuels research. Learn More.**
BUSES ARE A COMPETITION ISSUE: Spain’s CNMC competition authority is recommending that intercity bus routes over 100 kilometers be opened to competition. The routes are currently operated by concessions, which grant private services a monopoly. The CNMC says allowing rival services could reduce prices, increase connectivity and frequency, and improve service quality. That’s certainly been the case in Germany, where Flixbus exploded once the national market was deregulated.
British travelers returning home will be allowed to skip queues for passport checks and instead use “contactless corridors” thanks to the planned use of facial recognition technology at airports, according to the Times.
Gatwick Airport has hired an extra 400 security staff to deal with an uptick in passengers during the summer holidays, the BBC reports.
Germany’s transport ministry is scripting rules to ensure the country’s rail system runs on oil and coal, rather than on gas, as part of efforts to ease dependence on Russia. More from us.
Deutsche Bahn has rejected claims that its train-booking app violates data privacy rules, insisting the system is safe for consumers.
**A message from GE: GE shares another of the top innovations and industry-leading efforts in the march toward net-zero. Pioneering hydrogen combustion. February 2022, CFM and Airbus announced a collaboration on a hydrogen demonstration program. GE brings more than eight million operating hours of experience with hydrogen fuels in land-based gas power turbines. The objective is to ground and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen this decade, in preparation for entry-into-service by 2035. CFM will modify the combustor, fuel system, and control system of a GE Passport™ turbofan to run on hydrogen. It will be mounted along the rear fuselage of the flying testbed to allow engine emissions, including contrails, to be monitored separately from those of the engines powering the aircraft. “We will fly a modified engine to learn the art of the possible and to prove out the technologies,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president of engineering for GE. Learn more.**