Flying Towards a Greener Future: Earth Day Initiatives Driving Positive Change


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Every year since 1970, on April 22 the world celebrates Earth Day, a day to celebrate our beautiful planet and, more importantly, our day to advocate for the environment. This Earth Day, we are seeing many sustainable initiatives being launched across the aviation industry as the sector aligns its goals with those of the Paris Agreement to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

Airlines are tackling a multi-faceted challenge, and many have implemented passenger-facing programs as part of broader initiatives. The initiatives include corporate sustainability programs, incentives to decrease in-flight plastic use, and the launch of the world’s first sustainability podcast dedicated to aviation.

This year, corporate sustainability programs have gained popularity, with businesses and airlines collaborating to lower their respective carbon footprints. Earlier this week, Cathay Pacific announced the launch of its Corporate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) Program, one of the first of its kind in Asia. The program aims to accelerate the industry’s transition to SAF by having corporate travelers purchase SAF for their flight out of the carrier’s Hong Kong International Airport base. The airline then issues a verified emissions reduction certificate and proof of sustainability to help corporate travelers reduce their scope three emissions.

Qatar Airways has employed a similar program, but with offsets instead. The Qatar Airways voluntary carbon offset program gives corporate travelers access to a dedicated web portal that uses IATA’s best practices to calculate the CO2 emissions of their flight. The carrier then offsets the emissions via a yet unannounced leading renewable energy project, with additional verified projects to be included soon.

As pandemic restrictions ease up, we are seeing more onboard initiatives to reduce plastic waste. Last year, Alaska Airlines shifted to using boxed water with recyclable packaging to reduce its onboard plastic waste. This year airlines have been jumping on board to reduce in-flight waste by offering discounts on beverages for passengers who bring their own cups and selling reusable bottles in-flight.

This week, Hawaiian Airlines has announced a new ongoing partnership with actor and environmental activist Jason Momoa’s company Mananalu, as one of the airline’s multiple Earth Day initiatives. The partnership will see Hawaiian replace all water bottles sold on its Pau Hana snack cart and distribute the recyclable aluminum bottles to passengers in premium cabins on the carrier’s flights between Hawaii and its 16 continental U.S. gateway cities.

Climate change is increasingly becoming one of the biggest challenges the aviation industry must tackle. The aviation industry is stepping up to the plate, with new initiatives being announced seemingly every day. To celebrate Earth Day, SimpliFlying has launched a new podcast consolidating the airline industry’s sustainability efforts in one place. CEO Shashank Nigam talks to CEOs leading the aviation industry’s sustainable transition and provides insights as to where the industry currently stands, where it needs to get to, and what it needs to do to get there. The first episode of the podcast, launched today, interviews Etihad CEO Tony Douglas and discusses Etihad’s multiple platforms for pushing the industry towards net-zero.

As the industry continues its swift trajectory towards a net-zero future, it is exciting to think just what the industry, and the planet, will look like on Earth Day 2023.