Full marks to the Financial Times for putting this story on its front page yesterday. Almost too much to digest here, but here are some of the stand-out sentences from Roger Blitz’s take on the WTTC summit in Lisbon over the weekend which suggest that some within the industry are still firmly in denial about the challenges they face.

The industry is expected to expand by 4.3 per cent a year over the next decade and managers are fretting over climate change. They worry that flying is seen as the most polluting activity and are falling over themselves to champion schemes that allow the travelling public to go on clocking up air miles…

“We look at climate change as an image issue,” said Armin Meier, chief executive of Kuoni Travel, the luxury tour operator…

Maurice Flanagan, vice-chairman of Emirates Airline, was quite happy to share his trenchant view that global warming was “an argument”. He said he was taken aback at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year at the way that airlines were being “demonised as the cause of all this”. Mr Flanagan said more worrying than the apparent threat to the planet was the real threat to the existence of low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair. “If extremists get their way, thousands and thousands of jobs in travel and tourism will be lost…”

But it’s the end of the report that sticks in my memory…

For all the talk, practical meaningful solutions were little in evidence. It fell to James Russell of the Clinton Global Initiative to tell the industry what was expected of it. “Don’t be an Exxon,” he told the airlines, “Work out what you can do to drive down energy consumption. Travel agents should push hotels for carbon disclosure.” He added: “The message to chief executives is that perceptions are changing and you’ve got between 12 and 24 months to get on that route.” Exactly how much and for how long is arguable. “It’s flavour of the month,” said Charles Petruccelli, the president of global travel services at American Express. “The problem will realise its way beyond the industry soon.”

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