People can't lose sight of the fact that air travel provides important global connectivity and spurs economic growth, even as airlines come under increasing pressure to cut their carbon footprints, according to Aer Lingus boss Sean Doyle.
"The GDP halo effect, the economic catalyst, and the social benefits of connectivity and travel are very important," he told an audience at the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference in Dublin.
"Ireland is an island economy and we need connectivity, we need mobility," he said.
"We're a global economy and Aer Lingus and the airline industry plays an important role in the wider development of the economy and we shouldn't lose sight of that."
Mr Doyle said the sustainability issue has been "building and building" over the past 18 months. The issue was raised at a number of discussions yesterday at the Airline Economics and the Airfinance Journal aviation conferences in Dublin,
"I think it's very much here to stay," said Mr Doyle of sustainability. "It's going to be a defining feature of our lives and the way we do business. The airlines are very high profile in this debate.
"We're 2% of global emissions, but we are very much in the spotlight. We need to be proactive. There's no point in putting our heads in the sand."
"This is going to be a transition and a journey," he said.
Separately, Mark Streeter, who is the managing director of airline and aircraft credit at JP Morgan, told the Airfinance Journal conference that aviation "isn't going away, but neither is the climate change movement".