'We can help Indian aviation go green': Carlson

Carlson is the minister for infrastructure and housing, Sweden

61-Andreas-Carlson Andreas Carlson

What attracts Sweden to India’s aviation sector?

India is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing air transport markets. India and Sweden’s joint commitment towards green transition in the aviation sector and finding more sustainable solutions in aviation [can] drive us into the future. In Sweden, and across Europe, we see a lot of vibrant and innovative companies leading the way to reduce emission, to lower carbon footprints and also to help build a fossil-free airport. A Swedish company will have electric planes in the air in five years and that is something we talked about with our Indian counterparts; how we can help India to develop a green aviation sector.

Are you looking at direct connectivity between India and Sweden?

We hope to once again establish direct flights between Stockholm and New Delhi. We had discussions with Air India and other Indian airlines. I think it would be a very popular route; we already have business and trade co-operation, and we have a great Indian diaspora in Sweden and we also see increasing interest in tourism to India. I am quite confident when I say that a new direct route will be successful, and that was one part of the discussion.

What was the key agenda of the meeting with minister of state for civil aviation V.K. Singh?

We have an MoU between Sweden and India to deepen our co-operation and we discussed how we can cooperate on air traffic management, airspace design and also how to reduce carbon footprints, lower emissions, strengthen competitiveness and improve connectivity.

India is a larger country, but Sweden is one of the EU’s most widely spread-out countries. We have similar challenges when it comes to rural connectivity. With India planning all the investments in airports and aviation infrastructure, there is also a need for smaller planes to far-flung areas. That is something we have worked at very hard in Sweden, like the electric plane that is under development. It can work on short-haul flights in the beginning, but they can have up to 800km range with 35 passengers when combined with electricity and bio-fuel. With just electricity in the first phase, they will have a range of 200km, so we discussed that a bit. This company, Heart Aerospace, is paving the way not just in Sweden, but also on a global scale. Already discussions are on with big companies in the US.

Speaking of emissions, what are the technologies and ways in which Sweden can help Indian aviation?

Sweden’s airports are already 100 per cent fossil-fuel free. Next step is the plane itself. Electrification for short-haul flights. Hydrogen is kicking up speed. The low-hanging fruit is of course increasing use of bio-fuel and induction of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). A big step for the Swedish government is to step this up, as also increase cooperation on these with India.

India and EU have signed a memorandum in aviation cooperation. What are the best practices India can adopt from the EU when it comes to aviation safety?

Air traffic management services and airspace design are areas where we can learn from each other and share best practices. MoU creates a platform to work forward. It’s a start for greater co-operation.