Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 27-Feb-2020


British Airways increases single-use plastic reduction target for 2020

SAS eliminates more than 50 tonnes of plastic due to sustainable cube packaging

Ukraine International Airlines to discontinue use of plastic loyalty cards from Apr-2020

London Heathrow Airport reports environmental initiatives

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British Airways increases single-use plastic reduction target for 2020

British Airways announced (26-Feb-2020) a new target to remove more than 700 tonnes of single-use plastic onboard its services in 2020, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion individual items of plastic.

The airline has already rolled out initiatives to remove 25 million individual items of single-use plastic onboard p/a. The target also includes finding alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging onboard.

British Airways customer experience manager Kate Tanner stated: "We’ve spent a long time researching how to make sustainable changes without causing environmental impact elsewhere...we must ensure we are making the right choices on all replacements". [more - original PR]


British Airways today announced a new target to remove more than 700 tonnes of single-use plastic on board its flights in 2020, amounting to more than a quarter of a billion individual items of plastic and equivalent to more than 30,000 suitcases full of single-use plastic*, even more than the number of bags customers check in with the airline at Heathrow on an average day. 

The airline has already rolled out initiatives to remove 25 million individual items of single-use plastic on board each year, equivalent to 90 tonnes, and has now set itself an ambitious target to increase this by more than 700%. 

British Airways has been working closely with its suppliers to identify alternatives to single-use plastic items, and this year it will replace as many as possible with recyclable or re-usable items or items from sustainable sources. To date, the airline has achieved the following plastic reductions:  

  • Swapped plastic stirrers with bamboo alternatives  

  • Reduced plastic packaging on Club World amenity kits 

  • Swapped plastic wrapping for all bedding and blankets for paper wrapping (currently being rolled out across all cabins) 

  • Removed plastic wrapping on headsets and instead placed these inside paper charity envelopes in World Traveller cabins  

  • Water bottles on board are made from 50% recycled plastic 

  • Removed inflight retail plastic bags  

The target also includes finding alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery, tumblers, cups, toothpicks and butter packaging on board. The airline described the process of making these changes as complex, with a significant amount of research required to ensure that the alternative products sourced are credibly sustainable, offer the same hygiene levels as their plastic counterparts and do not outweigh the items they replace. 

Kate Tanner, British Airways’ Customer Experience Manager said: 

“Our customers have told us that they want to see these changes and we’re pleased to have made real strides in our journey to becoming more sustainable. We’ve spent a long time researching how to make sustainable changes without causing environmental impact elsewhere. For instance, we are looking at the amount of water and detergent needed to wash metal cutlery and how often it needs to be replaced versus using plastic or bamboo cutlery. 

“We’ve looked at how we ensure blankets and other items can be kept clean without a plastic covering and the lifespan of all the new items compared to the existing ones. Some potential replacement options may be heavier, which would then have an impact on the weight of the aircraft and therefore on our emissions, so we must ensure we are making the right choices on all replacements.” 

The airline has a team of more than 170 War on Waste cabin crew champions who promote best practice among crew and identify potential new initiatives to improve waste reduction and recycling practices on board. British Airways says it now expects its suppliers to offer sustainable alternatives as standard and will be making continual changes to its onboard products as they become available.  

To mark the new target British Airways commissioned eco-artist Sarah Turner to create a giant suitcase made from a thousand pieces of waste plastic, including 160 spoons, more than a dozen plastic stirrers, drinks lids, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, catering dishes and covers and bottles. The sculpture, which represents the 30,000 suitcases worth of plastic waste being removed, is currently on display at British Airways' Headquarters near Heathrow.

British Airways is committed to reducing its environmental impact. In October 2019, the airline committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.  From January this year, British Airways began offsetting carbon emissions on all its flights within the UK and is investing heavily in new, more fuel-efficient aircraft and in the development of sustainable aviation fuels. 

SAS eliminates more than 50 tonnes of plastic due to sustainable cube packaging

SAS announced (26-Feb-2020) the following accelerated sustainability highlights for Q1FY2020:

  • Eight A320neo aircraft phased in;
  • One A350 phased in;
  • Sustainable cube packaging for inflight meals, eliminating more than 50 tonnes of plastic;
  • Fuel efficiency programme in SAS Ireland. [more - original PR]

Excerpt from original report: Quarterly Results In Line With Guidance


I am very pleased that our improved operational quality and customer offering, our dedicated focus on sustainability and introduction of new aircraft continue to attract customers. In a challenging market, our strong customer offering has resulted in a passenger increase of 1.5% and improved our market share in Scandinavia by 1.6 percentage points to 29%.

Ingegerd Viking, the first of eight Airbus A350s on order, had its inaugural flight from Copenhagen to Chicago on 28 January. The passengers on board the new aircraft experienced a comfortable flight, in a cabin with new seat models and unique customized SASsolutions.

Aircraft operations account for over 99% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, fleet renewal is our most important initiative to reduce our environmental impact and the Airbus aircraft are the most fuel efficient on the market. In the quarter, we phased in eight Airbus A320neos in addition to the aforementioned Airbus A350. This means 15–30% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared with the aircraft they replace. During FY20, we expect deliveries of three additional A350s and six A320neos, which will further reduce our environmental footprint.  

Until future technology enables zero-emission aircraft, we will continue our efforts to increase usage and stimulate supply of sustainable aviation fuels. Since we provided the option for our customers to add biofuel to their SAS tickets, almost 10 000 travelers have added biofuel to their journeys. This interest shows that a growing number of customers wish to contribute to more sustainable air travel.  

At the start of the quarter, we launched new packaging for the New Nordic by SAS food concept, which eliminates up to 50 tons of plastics per year. This is one of many important initiatives in maximizing the use of sustainable materials in the customer offering.

We were also happy to announce that SAS and Apollo have extended their partnership for the 2020 summer and winter season. The agreement is worth around SEK 1.4 billion and we look forward to welcoming Apollo customers on board from 23 locations in SwedenDenmark and Norway on their way to 26 destinations in Europe.

Norwegian Sykehusinnkjøp also entered into a four-year contract with SAS, as the preferred airline for patient and employee travel on the largest routes in Norway. The healthcare companies spend around MNOK 400 annually on airline travel, and the decision to choose SASwas based on a combination of price and departure schedules.

UIA to discontinue use of plastic loyalty cards from Apr-2020

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA), via its official Facebook account, announced (26-Feb-2020) plans to discontinue the issue of Panorama Club plastic cards as a measure against environmental pollution. Panorama Club Premium and Panorama Club Elite member privileges will be provided upon presentation of digital cards from 01-Apr-2020.

London Heathrow Airport reports environmental initiatives

London Heathrow Airport reported (26-Feb-2020) it has completed the following environmental initiatives:

  • Signed up to a commitment of net-zero carbon by 2050, alongside the rest of the aviation industry;
  • Achieved carbon neutral status in Jan-2020 and is working towards operating zero carbon infrastructure by mid-2030s for all its infrastructure.

It added: "Unless expansion meets strict environmental targets, no additional capacity can or will be used". [more - original PR]

Excerpt from report: Heathrow lands 9th year of consecutive growth - full year 2019 Financial Results

Heathrow lands 9th year of consecutive growth with healthy financial performance – Heathrow welcomed a record 80.9 million passengers in 2019 (+1% vs 2018) with 82% rating the airport as “Excellent” or “Very Good” following private investment of over £12 billion. The share of UK exports handled through Heathrow increased to 40%, strengthening our position as the UK’s biggest port. Heathrowremains in strong financial health: revenues climbed 3.4% to £3.1 billion on the back of increased demand to fly – supporting an additional £856 million of investment into the airport in 2019. Adjusted EBITDA rose 4.6% to £1.9 billion. Remaining competitive in the lead-up to expansion continues to be a priority: strict operating cost discipline while prioritising service, operational resilience and investment in growth has driven adjusted costs per passenger pre IFRS 16 up 5.0% to £14.85. Strong balance sheet with liquidity extended to October 2021 after raising £2.1 billion in global capital markets

Heathrow expansion will boost economic prosperity, fulfilling the Prime Minister’s vision of a Global Britain – Case for expansion was strengthened as new figures revealed that growth at EU competitor Charles de Gaulle is set to overtake Heathrow, threatening the UK’s only hub airport and the Prime Minister’s ambition for a Global Britain. As capacity constraints continue to strangle the UK’s biggest port by value, trade and tourism volumes are being handed on a plate to European competitors

Expanding the UK’s only hub airport will help level up the country – Heathrow delivered a record year for apprenticeship starts in 2019, and finalists in the airport’s UK-wide logistics hub search await the final green light to help build expansion. £14 billion of private investment ready to launch tens of thousands of jobs, thousands of apprenticeships, new technology and huge economic benefits in every corner of the country

Heathrow takes a lead on addressing the biggest issue of our time – climate change – Heathrow signed up to unwavering commitment of net-zero carbon by 2050, alongside the rest of the aviation industry. Heathrow achieved carbon-neutral status in January 2020 and are working towards operating zero-carbon infrastructure by mid-2030s for all its infrastructure. Heathrow remains clear that unless expansion meets strict environmental targets, no additional capacity can or will be used 

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye, said:

“Within two years, Charles de Gaulle will overtake Heathrow as the biggest airport in EuropeHeathrow’s new runway is ready to turn ‘global Britain’ into more than just a campaign slogan. It’s the key to the UK’s success after Brexit and will ensure we stay ahead of our European rivals. Expansion will be built within legally-binding environmental targets, creating lower airfares for passengers, connecting every corner of Britain to global growth and all at no cost to the taxpayer. It’s time to get on with it.”

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