Global sustainable aviation leaders announced at the CAPA Environmental Sustainability Awards 2022

Featured Press Release

CAPA - Centre for Aviation (CAPA), the world's most trusted source of aviation market intelligence and a part of the Aviation Week Network, recognised Wizz Air, Cebu Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Volaris and Etihad Airways among the globe's top airlines at CAPA's annual Environmental Sustainability Awards for Excellence in Singapore this evening (03-Nov-2022).

The eight award winners were presented at a gala dinner at the Capella, attended by over 150 of the region's aviation luminaries and part of the 2022 CAPA Asia Aviation Summit.

In 2021 CAPA, along with its partner Envest Global, launched its inaugural Airline Sustainability Benchmarking Report, pioneering the world's most effective evaluation of airline carbon emissions.

To coincide with the 2022 report launch, CAPA evolved its Asia Awards for Excellence into the CAPA Sustainability Awards for Excellence.

CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Content & Marketing Director, Marco Navarria said: "The CAPA Aviation Sustainability Awards for Excellence uses a range of independent data and analysis to recognise those airlines and partners in the travel chain who have demonstrated clear leadership, innovation and commitment to sustainability initiatives. These winners are helping to generate the positive momentum that is needed to drive the whole industry forward towards its environmental goals."

CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Information Services Director, Sharon Dai said: "CAPA and Envest Global remain committed to providing objective, data-driven assessment of the sustainability performance of the world's airlines, and being the single source of truth for key industry stakeholders. In this second iteration of report, we analysed the actual sustainability performance of the world's 100 largest airlines in 2021, representing more than 70% of the global commercial aviation emissions.

"In another world first, we are proud to introduce the CAPA/Envest Airline Sustainability Rating system, which rates and ranks each airline's sustainability performance relative to other airlines. The industry's ambitious and essential goal to achieve net zero emissions will place airline business models under extraordinary pressure. Those that wish to survive and prosper will need reliable data, benchmarking and analysis from trusted sources."

  • CAPA - Centre for Aviation recognized Wizz Air, Cebu Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Volaris, and Etihad Airways as top airlines in terms of environmental sustainability.
  • The awards were presented at CAPA's annual Environmental Sustainability Awards for Excellence in Singapore.
  • Wizz Air was awarded both the Global Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year and the EMEA Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year.
  • Cebu Pacific was awarded the Asia Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year.
  • Delta Air Lines was awarded the North American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year.
  • Volaris was awarded the Latin American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year.

Airline Winners

The airline winners across the global and regional categories have been selected from the airlines that have demonstrated the greatest commitment towards the development of sustainability initiatives in the airline industry.

The regional category winners have established themselves as leaders among their peers, providing a model of operation that other airlines can aspire to.

  • Global Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year
  • EMEA Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year
  • Asia Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year
  • North American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year
  • Latin American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year
  • Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year
  • Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year

Global Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year & EMEA Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year: Wizz Air

This is awarded to the airline that has stood out in its progress towards sustainability during the year, acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to bring itself in line with best industry practices in terms of people, operations and governance, along with its determination to pursue future development opportunities.

The airline has demonstrated substantial impact on the local and global sustainable development of the airline industry - establishing itself as a leader and providing a benchmark for others to follow.

Wizz Air was selected for its ambitious, multi-pronged sustainability strategy, which features an array of initiatives incorporating its staff & training, fleet & network strategy, fuel purchasing & sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) use, customer relationships, and integration into local economies, as well as working with some of the most innovative international partners in the travel chain.

Wizz Air is one of the largest LCCs in Europe and one of the region's fastest growing and most successful airlines, having emerged from the pandemic in a much stronger position than many of its regional and international peers.

The airline is committed to offering the lowest possible fares to passengers, while consciously embracing a strategy that is attuned to sustainability requirements.

Wizz Air has one of Europe's most modern fleets, with an average fleet age across its 170+ aircraft of just 4.6 years. The carrier has committed to purchasing more than 300 next generation narrowbodies, including the latest and highest capacity versions of the A321neo, which offers significant reductions in CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions, along with having much-reduced noise profiles.

Onboard its aircraft, Wizz Air has adopted a range of environmentally friendly policies and industry best practices when it comes to aircraft operations at the gate and in the skies. It has also adopted a range of policies onboard, including eliminating single use plastics in the cabin, introducing a paper-free flight deck and increasing use of recycled materials.

Wizz Air also partners with travel industry suppliers to offer most sustainable choices to passengers. This includes a high quality, transparent carbon offsetting program, as well as options for more environmentally friendly choices for passenger once they arrive at their destination.

The airline conducted its first 'green' demonstration flight in 2022, operating an A321neo partially with sustainable aviation fuel (uplifting 4.5 tonnes of 30:70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel) on a service from Bucharest to Lyon, delivering a 13% reduction in emissions.

The airline has reduced its per passenger emission by 17% since 2014 and has committed to reducing unit emission by a further 25% by 2030.

Already among Europe's most efficient and lowest emitting airlines, Wizz Air promises to lead the industry towards a sustainable future.

Wizz Air, Chief Executive Officer, József Váradi, said: "We are truly honoured to receive this prestigious recognition by CAPA, naming Wizz Air as the most environmentally sustainable airline not only in Europe but also globally. When it comes to decarbonizing aviation, Wizz Air is laser focused on the technology and innovations available here and now. We are confident that by investing in the most modern aircraft and engines we will be able to continuously reduce passengers' carbon footprint and deliver the targeted CO2 intensity decrease by 2030 and beyond. We stay committed to making Wizz Air the most environmentally efficient choice of air travel."

CAPA - Centre for Aviation, Content & Marketing Director, Marco Navarria said: "Wizz Air has shown itself as a leader in the environmental sustainability aviation space. Results from CAPA's Environmental Sustainability Airline Benchmarking Reports in both 2021 and 2022 had Wizz Air as one of the top performing carriers across most categories. It is our pleasure to award Wizz Air as CAPA's EMEA and Global Sustainable Airline of the year."

Asia Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year: Cebu Pacific

This is awarded to the Asia Pacific airline that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in sustainability performance and initiatives in the regional aviation industry.

The winning carrier has demonstrated not only a strategic commitment to sustainability, but has also incorporated innovation in the field to enhance their own business, as well as driving wider adoption of green initiatives with the regional industry.

Cebu Pacific was selected for this award based on its ongoing adoption of a range of sustainability programs across all segments of its business operation, as well as its broader efforts to work with partners in the travel chain to ensure that local and international stakeholders enhance their own sustainability efforts.

Cebu Pacific is the largest airline in the Philippines and the fifth largest airline in Southeast Asia. The carrier has rapidly taken on a major role in the domestic market, offering low cost, reliable travel for passenger across dozens of islands in the Philippines. It has increasingly developed into a champion for international tourism, with a fleet of high density A330s offering connection to more than 20 destinations across the Asia Pacific and Middle East.

Despite losses during the difficult COVID-19 period, and the heavy-handed regional approach to border closures in the region, the airline has emerged from the pandemic in better shape than many of its full service and low cost regional peers.

Cebu Pacific continues to see increasing interest in leisure travel, particularly for the upcoming end of year holiday season. The airline is anticipating a full recovery across its entire network in 2023, although at present it is operating with around half of the international capacity that it had before the pandemic.

In the interim, the airline plans to increase its level of operations to a broad range of Asia Pacific destinations, including Brunei, Bali and Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Cebu Pacific has taken a broad-front approach to sustainability, ramping up its efforts to become more efficient, less wasteful and more innovative, even as the pandemic has ravaged its business.

The airline has one of the more innovative tourism sustainability programs, known as the 'Juan Effect', which works with local stakeholders to ensure that environment-friendly processes are followed to help preserve some of the country's most popular island destinations.

This year the airline took its first major steps towards the introduction of a comprehensive sustainable alternative fuels program, in partnership with Shell Aviation. The airline operated the first commercial SAF service in the Philippines, using a 35:65 blend of drop in SAF on a flight between Singapore and Manila. It has committed to an MoU to explore the use of SAF for service in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, with an initial supply volume of 25,000 tonnes per annum.

The airline intends to make SAF a standard part of its operations, including using it in all deliveries of its new A320neo aircraft from Airbus. Beyond this, it intends to use SAF across its entire commercial network by 2030 and will launch 'green routes' featuring SAF from 2025 onwards.

Apart from SAF, Cebu Pacific is committed to enhancing its investment in sustainability initiatives, in order to boost its own environmental performance, along with bringing benefits to its own business operations.

The carrier has committed to updating its entire fleet to next generation designs, offering fuel savings of up to 20%, as well as adopting a new resource optimisation program to ensure that it operates in the most efficient manner possible.

Beyond this, the carrier is committed to ensuring that it earns the title of the greenest airline in the Asia Pacific as it seeks to rebuild its network and restart travel and tourism into the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific, Chief Finance Officer, Mark Cezar, said: "The Philippines is among the top countries at risk of adverse impacts of climate change so our commitment to sustainability has evolved over time. Cebu Pacific is among the first low-cost carriers in the world to adopt carbon emission reduction initiatives. We are committed to investing time and resources to become the greenest airline in Asia. We have a long way to go to achieving the target of net zero by 2050 and we need our partners to commit, so we all succeed and create meaningful change. We encourage everyone to join us on this journey."

North American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year: Delta Air Lines

This is awarded to the airline in North America that has not only been a standout in terms of sustainability for the year, but has also been among the most innovative and influential airlines with its overall approach and embrace of sustainable concepts.

Delta Air Lines, the world's third largest airline in terms of passengers carried and seats on offer, expects to have its network fully restored to 2019 levels in the summer of 2023.

Delta is one of the few airlines globally that has already moved back into profitability, and its focus now is on ensuring that it can return to a more stable long term footing by restoring financial performance, investing in its fleet and people, driving operational excellence and incorporating sustainability into all facets of its operations.

Delta Air Lines has long been a global leader in the arena of sustainability - not just as an airline, but as one of the most consistently sustainable companies in the entire North American region.

This includes being the only airline ranked in the S&P Sustainability Yearbook in 2021, consistently ranking on the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index and FTSE4Good Index, and being ranked by multiple studies as the most sustainable airline in the US.

Delta Air Lines was the first US carrier to commit to voluntarily capping greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels. It was also the first airline globally to commit to being carbon neutral, and one of the first to operate a 'carbon neutral' commercial flight (achieved via a combination of flight optimisation, SAF use and voluntary and airline-purchased carbon offsets). The airline has also pledged to replace 10% of its fossil-based jet fuel with SAF by 2030.

To achieve these ambitions, Delta Air Lines is one of the largest purchasers of sustainable aviation fuel globally and the largest in North America.

Since the start of 2020 the airline has committed to seven major SAF offtake agreements, totalling more than 3.8 billion litres of fuel. It has also committed to purchasing high-quality carbon offsets as part of its long term strategy towards decarbonisation.

The airline is also innovating in its environmental partnerships, having recently signed an agreement with Google and Chevron to monitor emissions from SAF-powered flights to ensure that its actions match up to its commitments.

Delta has also announced environmentally focused partnerships with Air BP, Airbus, Gevo, Neste, the Northwest Fuels Alliance, MIT and DG Fuels, along with aligning its pension plan with an investment fund focused on large-scale climate solutions.

Delta Air Lines is among the few carriers that are thinking about and investing in large scale, long term revolutionary and disruptive ideas to support a carbon-free future for aviation.

Delta Air Lines, Chief Sustainability Officer & Corporate Innovation, Pam Fletcher commented: "Decarbonizing the airline industry will take all of us doing more than our part by taking measurable short-, medium-, and long-term actions, partnering to sharing knowledge and making sustainability a key consideration across every business decision. Data-backed innovation and goals are at the center of our approach to leading the way on behalf of our employees, customers and communities. We are humbled by CAPA's recognition."

Latin American Environmental Sustainability Airline/Airline Group of the Year: Volaris

This is awarded to the airline in Latin America that has not only been a standout in terms of sustainability for the year, but has also been among the most innovative and influential airlines with its overall approach and embrace of sustainable concepts.

Volaris is the leading airline in Mexico and the wider Latin American region.

The airline was among the airlines that were first to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of traffic and financial performance. With a network linking North and South America to Mexico's business centres and vibrant tourism hubs, the ultra-low cost focused carrier is the third largest airline between Mexico and the US, and is the largest airline operator in Mexico's crowded domestic market.

Volaris has worked hard on a comprehensive Corporate Sustainability Program in the past few years, built around focus pillars of economic & corporate governance, care for the planet and care for the airline's staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

This program is guided by the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), with Volaris' actions, programs and projects contributing to the achievement of goals related to 11 of the SDGs.

This program, along with other initiatives covering operations, network, supply chain and more, has cemented Volaris' place as the most environmentally friendly airline in Mexico.

Between 2016 and 2020 the carrier managed to reduce its per unit greenhouse gas emissions by 18%, making it the lowest emitting airline on a per passenger and per revenue passenger kilometre basis in Latin America.

The carrier also boasts one of the most youthful commercial airline fleets in Latin America, with an average age of just 5.4 years (the lowest in Latin America, and the 4th youngest average fleet age globally). Next generation aircraft make up 58 of its 111 Airbus narrowbodies.

The airline also has another 120 A320neo family aircraft on order, and will phase out older generation narrowbodies from its fleet by 2028.

This will help reduce its unit emissions by a further 15%, which will be further enhanced by other operational improvements, adoption of new technologies and route & network optimisation.

In a global context, Volaris is one of the most efficient airlines anywhere. According to the CAPA-Envest Global Environmental Sustainability Report, Volaris had the second lowest emissions per RPK globally in 2021 and the third lowest emissions per RTK.

Volaris has sought to continue to enhance its environmental credentials over the past year. In late 2021 the airline issued its first Sustainability-Linked Structured Bond, which was also the first of its kind issued in the Americas. The MXN1.5 billion (USD75 million) bond garnered substantial interest, being 1.9 times oversubscribed.

The airline conducted its first flight powered by sustainable aviation fuels during 2022, taking delivery of a new A320neo with the delivery flight powered by fuel produced from waste oils and other residues.

Volaris, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enrique Beltranena said: "Volaris is committed to bringing financial and non-financial value to all the stakeholders to ensure our growth and profitability, making ultra-low-cost aviation a driver of development in the years to come. We thank CAPA for this award that makes visible our efforts to integrate sustainability into our company's DNA. It is a great honor to be recognized as the Environmental Sustainability Airline of the Year."

Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year: Etihad Airways

CAPA - Centre for Aviation has awarded Etihad Airways the Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year for the development of its Net Zero Targets and Sustainable Development Goals.

The airline is engaged in a wide range of initiatives that are intended to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions intensity in its passenger fleet by 2025, cut 2019 net emissions by 50% by 2035, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

In concert with this, the airline has committed to the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets, both in the UAE and globally. This is part of the carrier's voluntary commitment to the pilot phase of ICAO's Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation scheme.

Etihad is purchasing VERRA certified offsets in the Tarangire-Manyara mangrove ecosystem in Tanzania, which confirms to Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCBA) standards.

Apart from emissions and offsets, the airlines also aims to reduce single plastic use by 80% by the end of 2022, as well as enhancing its commitments to biodiversity and wildlife protection. The carrier has also adopted a zero-tolerance approach to human trafficking and modern slavery, raising awareness via continuous staff training.

In 2021 Etihad Airways launched the first consumer-focused 'green' loyalty and rewards programs to incentivise more environmentally friendly choices among its passengers.

The carrier's 'Conscious Choices' program offers loyalty points for passengers opting to offset the emissions from their travel and carry less baggage onboard. A corporate-focused program, 'Corporate Conscious Choices', was added to facilitate corporate partner sustainability goals, offering purchase options for SAF, carbon offsets and a 'green' surcharge.

In the air Etihad Airways has one of the most modern and efficient fleets in the world. With the airline having an average fleet age of just 5.8 years, nearly 60% of its aircraft are represented by new generation widebodies.

The Boeing 787 makes up the backbone of Etihad's fleet, complemented by the addition of its new A350-1000 aircraft. Earlier this year, Etihad published its 2020-2021 Sustainability Report, outlining its industry-leading sustainability strategy, represented by the Etihad Greenliner and Sustainable50 programmes.

Mariam Alqubaisi, Head of Sustainability & Business Excellence, Etihad Airways, said: "We are pleased to have been recognized by CAPA for our work to help drive the aviation industry towards a sustainable future and our goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and halving our net emission levels by 2035.

"We have made refining and implementing sustainability initiatives an intrinsic part of our day-to-day operation. We have run a series of ecoFlights over the past two years to test and validate several concepts, the next example being a scheduled Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi service to fly via Sharm-El-Sheik delivering COP27 delegates with zero net emission.

"The flight will deploy the sustainable aviation fuel Book & Claim system in partnership with World Energy to highlight SAF logistical and infrastructure challenges. This effort, and the others, aren't about just about solving Etihad's emissions, but about supporting the entire industry to address the biggest challenge we face."

Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year: Turkish Airlines

CAPA - Centre for Aviation has awarded Turkish Airlines the Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year for its work to develop the 'Microalgae Based Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Project (MICRO-JET) and produce the world's first carbon-negative sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

MICRO-JET will pilot production of a synthetic bio-kerosene using microalgae as a feedstock. The project involves large scale production of algae, which offers the most efficient and sustainable feedstock to generate non-feedstock/non-feed bio-derived oils for SAF generation, without agricultural competition for land, water and other valuable resources.

At full capacity the MICRO-JET facility will provide an annual carbon dioxide capture, along with a capacity of approximately 1200 tons wet algae mass p/a to be processed into SAF. Residual biomass can be converted to additional value-added products, such as bioplastics.

This will be the first carbon-negative integrated biorefinery in Turkey and Europe. The first biofuel from the site is due for delivery in 2022. This will then be tested by Turkish Airlines' engineering unit Turkish Technic and then used to power flights by the carrier.

The MICRO-JET facility will be the first location to produce carbon-negative SAF. It will also contribute to nine of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Turkish Airlines, Chief Investment & Technology Officer, Levent Konukcu, said: "As the airline that flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, we appreciate the sustainable aviation fuel as a key element in our sustainability strategy on reducing aviation's environmental impact."

"The steps we have taken in the field of biofuels recently, such as the Signature of the SAF Declaration, the use of sustainable aviation fuel in our flights, and the 'Microalgae-Based Sustainable Bio-Jet (MICRO-JET) Project,' which we are carrying out with Boğaziçi University as a project partner, prove how much we focus on sustainable aviation fuels in the fight against climate change."

"Beyond the use of biofuels, the fact that the support given to scientific studies in the production of this fuel is crowned with an award here today is both proud and indicates the correctness of the steps we have taken. As the Turkish Airlines family, we will continue to invest and support sustainable aviation fuels and focus on the future of our world."