Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 10-Jun-2021

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

United Airlines signed (03-Jun-2021) a commercial agreement with Boom Supersonic to purchase 15 ‘Overture’ airliners, with the option for an additional 35 aircraft, once the aircraft meets United‘s safety, operating and sustainability requirements.

The aircraft is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and carry passengers by 2029. United is the first US carrier to sign for the aircraft type, capable at flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 and connecting to over 500 destinations in around half the time span.

Overture is first large commercial aircraft to be net zero carbon from day one, optimised to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

United‘s future potential routes include Newark to London in three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in six hours. The aircraft will include in seat entertainment screens and contactless technology.

United CEO Scott Kirby stated: “United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes. Boom‘s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience”. [more – original PR] [more – original PR – II]

Original report: United Airlines Adds Supersonic Aircraft to Fleet

First U.S. airline to sign commercial agreement with Boom Supersonic – New aircraft will cut travel times in half and operate on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel Boom Supersonic‘s aircraft will cut travel times in half and operate on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

United Airlines today announced a commercial agreement with Denver-based aerospace company Boom Supersonic to add aircraft to its global fleet as well as a cooperative sustainability initiative – a move that facilitates a leap forward in returning supersonic speeds to aviation.

Under the terms of the agreement, United will purchase 15 of Boom‘s ‘Overture’ airliners, once Overture meets United‘s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery. Once operational, Overture is expected to be the first large commercial aircraft to be net-zero carbon from day one, optimized to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It is slated to roll out in 2025, fly in 2026 and expected to carry passengers by 2029. United and Boom will also work together to accelerate production of greater supplies of SAF.

United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes. Boom‘s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience,” United CEO Scott Kirby said. “Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”

Capable of flying at speeds of Mach 1.7 – twice the speed of today’s fastest airliners – Overture can connect more than 500 destinations in nearly half the time. Among the many future potential routes for United are Newark to London in just three and a half hours, Newark to Frankfurt in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours. Overture will also be designed with features such as in-seat entertainment screens, ample personal space, and contactless technology. Working with Boom is another component of United‘s strategy to invest in innovative technologies that will build a more sustainable future of air travel.

“The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world,” said Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder and CEO. “United and Boom share a common purpose—to unite the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.”

Delta Air Lines launches ‘Flight to Net Zero’ initiative

Delta Air Lines launched (03-Jun-2021) the ‘Flight to Net Zero’ initiative, including new products and standards to advance clean air travel and accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions.

Additionally, the carrier signed its fifth sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) agreement with CWT.

The agreement purchases enough SAF to cover projected fuel usage from all clients.

Delta Air Lines executive vice president of global sales Steve Sear stated: “Strong sustainability partnerships, like our latest one with CWT, drive the industry forward to a more environmentally sound future”. [more – original PR]

Original report: Delta launches Flight to Net Zero, signs partnership with CWT

In advance of World Environment Day, Delta is launching Flight to Net Zero – a reflection of the airline’s commitment to carbon neutrality. The airline is also acting on that commitment, signing a fifth sustainable aviation fuel agreement with partner CWT. Both reflect Delta‘s commitment to making significant, long-term investments to mitigate all carbon dioxide emissions from its airline operation.

“Flight to Net Zero introduces travelers to our commitment to carbon neutrality,” said Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s Managing Director of Sustainability. “We are actively pursuing a new path forward for aviation, so our customers do not have to choose between seeing the world and saving it.”

Flight to Net Zero

Flight to Net Zero encompasses Delta’s climate leadership through its carbon neutrality goal. It also represents the new initiatives, products and standards that will advance clean air travel and accelerate the reduction of carbon emissions.

Beyond Flight to Net Zero, which addresses carbon emissions, the company has an ambitious vision of zero-impact aviation – where air travel does not damage the environment directly or indirectly via greenhouse gas emissions, noise, waste or other impacts.  

CWT Partnership

Change cannot be made alone. To that end, Delta continues to expand its sustainable aviation fuel agreements with solid business partners. The latest CWT agreement purchases enough sustainable aviation fuel to cover the projected fuel usage from all of their clients on June 5, World Environment Day.

“Actions speak louder than words, and we are delighted to further cement both our wide-reaching partnership with Delta and our commitment to responsible business in such an innovative and public initiative,” said Patrick Andersen, CWT’s Chief Commercial Officer.

As a U.N. Global Compact signatory since 2012, CWT is committed to the highest standard of responsible business practices, including a firm focus on environmental stewardship, which is a core part of their strategy, culture and day-to-day activities.

“Strong sustainability partnerships, like our latest one with CWT, drive the industry forward to a more environmentally sound future,” said Steve Sear, Delta’s Executive Vice President of Global Sales. “These partnerships underscore a conceptual alignment within the travel industry to proactively find solutions for the carbon footprint created by travel.”

With these agreements, Delta makes progress in its three areas of focus to drive toward a net-zero carbon future:

  • Carbon reductions and removals
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Coalition building

Partnerships, like the one with CWT, bring much-needed investment to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) market by building industry demand and supply with the goal of decreasing the aviation industry’s reliance on conventional jet fuel. By creating the supply, Delta’s goal of using 10 percent sustainable aviation fuel by the end of 2030 comes closer to reality.

The recent launch of Delta’s inaugural ESG report highlights its intention to be a catalyst for global change and its role in growing empathy, respect and care for the planet and the people within it. Delta has a longstanding commitment to sustainable air travel. It is the first and only U.S. airline to cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels voluntarily. In 2020, it committed to be the first carbon-neutral airline globally. Delta was the No. 1 airline named among America’s Most Sustainable Companies by Barron’s in 2020. It was the only U.S. airline included in the 2021 S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook. It has received the Vision for America Award by Keep America Beautiful and Captain Planet Foundation’s Superhero Corporate Award.

Delta has also earned a spot on the FTSE4Good Index for six consecutive years and the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for ten straight years.  

Widerøe remains hopeful about Rolls-Royce electric aircraft amid fleet overhaul plan: CEO

Widerøe CEO Stein Nilsen, speaking at CAPA Live From Seattle June 2021, stated (09-Jun-2021) the carrier hopes to be among the first to operate zero emission aircraft by 2025-2027 in partnership with Rolls-Royce and Tecnam, noting Widerøe has “suitable” routes for the initial nine seater concept.

Commenting on the company’s ongoing focus on low to zero emission aircraft, Mr Nilsen added: “The DHC-8-100/200 will end its lifespan in 2030-2035. We have to invest in a new aircraft type [and] it’s very hard for us to make a large investment in 25-30 aircraft with old technology”. 

London Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with Vitol Aviation and Neste, incorporated (03-Jun-2021) sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into its main fuel supply.

The supply, equivalent to fuelling between five and 10 short haul services, serves as proof of concept to enable greater use of SAF in the future.

As previously reported by CAPA, the airport has recommended the UK Government implement an SAF mandate of 10% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. 58% of Heathrow airlines by air traffic movements have committed to 10% SAF usage by 2030.

Airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said Heathrow is the first ‘major’ UK airport to successfully incorporate SAF into its operation. [more – original PR]

Original report: Sustainable aviation fuel to partly power Heathrow jets as airport moves to reduce emissions

  • Working with Vitol Aviation and NesteHeathrow has become the first UK major airport to successfully integrate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into its fuel distribution
  • Ahead of the G7 Summit, the fuel will be blended into the UK’s hub airport’s main fuel supply from 3 June
  • The supply, equivalent for fuel needed to power between 5-10 short haul flights, aims to serve as proof of concept to enable much greater use of SAF going forward

Heathrow has successfully incorporated sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into its operation, ahead of the G7 Summit. Working alongside Vitol Aviation and Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™, the fuel will be incorporated into the airport’s main fuel supply today, and blended to use across flights operating at Heathrow over the next few days. Whilst the fuel supply may be comparatively small – equivalent to fuelling 5-10 short haul flights – this commercial delivery will establish proof of concept at the UK’s largest airport. Achieving this milestone is a critical first step in demonstrating to Government that the technology will work in reducing carbon from aviation so long as the correct policy framework to incentivise take up at scale is achieved.

Vitol Aviation’s expertise in the specialist handling of jet fuel will be combined with Neste’s market-leading SAF production capabilities. Neste MY SAF is produced 100% from renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil and animal and fish fat waste. Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel in its neat form and over the life cycle, reduces up to 80%* of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil jet fuel use.

“We are delighted that Heathrow is the first UK major airport to successfully incorporate sustainable aviation fuels into its operation.”


John Holland-Kaye , Heathrow CEO03 June 2021

Increasing the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is the key tool in the decarbonisation of aviation. Together with other technologies, it offers a pathway to achieving net zero aviation in line with the Paris Agreement. As we approach COP26 in Glasgow now is the moment for the Government, investors and industry to collaborate in scaling-up the use of SAF to ensure real momentum this decade.

Today’s announcement marks the next step in Heathrow and the UK aviation sector’s plan for net zero flying. To achieve rapid scale up of production of SAFs, Heathrow is calling for the UK Government to set escalating mandates that requires a minimum of 10% SAF use by airlines by 2030, increasing to at least 50% by 2050. This should be alongside commercial incentives for airlines to stimulate demand and foster investment, and to help ensure the UK is at the forefront of SAF production.

Heathrow has already been engaging with partners including airlines on committing to SAF so the UK’s hub can achieve its objective to become one of the most sustainable airports in the world. 58% of Heathrow airlines by air traffic movements have committed to 10% SAF usage by 2030. The Committee on Climate Change’s most optimistic projection for SAF usage by 2030 was 7%, demonstrating Heathrow flights are already 84% on the way towards this projection.

The first delivery of SAF at Heathrow in June this year is therefore a pivotal and historic moment. The type of SAF being used is called HEFA (Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids) which can be made from vegetable oils, waste oils or fats. The HEFA being used at Heathrow is made from waste (such as used cooking oil), residues (such as fish fat waste from the food processing industry) and sustainably sourced vegetable oils.

Heathrow Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye said: “We are delighted that Heathrow is the first UK major airport to successfully incorporate sustainable aviation fuels into its operation. As we get ready to welcome the world to the G7, we can demonstrate how this technology can significantly cut carbon from aviation, whilst protecting its benefits. The UK Government now has an opportunity to create a new British growth industry by backing sustainable aviation fuel production and also be leaders in the race to a net zero 2050. Now is the time for less talk and more action and Ministers should set an escalating mandate to blend SAF into fuel and provide incentives that are stable over 5-10 years to foster investment in production, with a target of 10% by 2030 and at least 50% by 2050.”

Vitol Aviation, Leticia Hachuel said: “Sustainability has always been important to us as a supplier and to airlines and their passengers. We are delighted to be the first to deliver sustainable aviation fuel to Heathrow. Whilst this is proof of concept, for the need to realise lower-emission options for flying is critical and we are looking at how we can use our expertise to offer more sustainable options.”

Renewable Aviation at Neste Vice President Europe, Jonathan Wood said: “We are continuously supporting the aviation industry in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are pleased that Vitol are enabling Neste MY SAF to be used at Heathrow, one of the leading global hub airports. We are also proud to play a role in lower-emission travel to the G7 conference, where sustainability will be one of the key topics.”

Agoda: COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted attitudes to sustainable travel

Agoda reported (08-Jun-2021) its ‘Sustainable Travel Trends Survey’ found the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted attitudes to sustainable travel.

Globally, 25% of respondents reported an increased desire to travel more sustainably, compared to 35% whose desire to do so decreased. 

The increase in desire to travel more sustainably was most prevalent among respondents from South Korea (35%), India(31%) and Taiwan (31%).

 The markets reporting the biggest proportional decrease were Indonesia (56%), Thailand (51%) and the Philippines (50%). [more – original PR]

Excerpt from original report: Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey reveals people’s top concerns about tourism’s impact, and measures to make travel more sustainable

asy identification of sustainable eco-friendly travel options, limited use of single-use plastics and financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiencies are the top three additional measures needed to make travel more sustainable according to Agoda’s Sustainable Travel Trends Survey. Establishing more protected areas to limit tourist numbers and removal of single-use bathroom amenities round out the top five global measures.  

The findings from the Survey launched today to mark World Environment Day 2021 (5 June) also revealed globally that overtourism, and pollution of beaches and waterways are the top two concerns of the impact of tourism, with deforestation and energy inefficiencies (including overconsumption of electricity/water) ranking joint third.  

Governments considered most responsible for making changes to make travel more sustainable   

Globally, the public considers Governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities and individuals themselves. When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and UK were most likely to do so (36%), China followed not too far behind at 33%, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth spot (28% and 27% respectively.The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to traveling sustainably were Thailand (30%), Japan (29%) and the US (28%). Meanwhile, China (11%), the UK (13%), and Vietnam (14%) were least likely to attribute responsibility to the individual.  

When asked what they would pledge to do better in a post COVID travel scenario, the top responses globally were #1 manage their waste including using less single-use plastics, #2 switch off the air con and lights when leaving their accommodation, and #3 always look for eco-friendly accommodation. Interestingly, despite overtourism being the biggest concern, going to lesser-known destinations only ranked seventh of out of 10 as a pledge to do better.   

No ‘one size fits all for’ sustainability    

The top practices most associated with environmentally friendly or sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastics, joint number #3 animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint.  

Other energy saving solutions such as key cards or motion sensors, using natural cleaning products are the other key practices.  Interestingly, buying locally sourced products, reusing bedding or towels during holiday stays and visiting off-the-beaten track destinations are the bottom three practices out of 10 associated with sustainable travel.  

“We can see from the Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey that the messages of taking simple steps such as switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the room or reducing waste by minimizing use of single-use plastics are being embraced by the public across the globe.  What is also clear is that while globally the message is Governments need to take the lead on managing sustainable travel, there is recognition that some responsibility lies with people’s own behavior,” explains John Brown, CEO Agoda.  

“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when traveling. One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider traveling to off the beaten track destinations. This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas. If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.”    

“As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to help individuals achieve these goals be it making it easier to search and find sustainable properties on Agoda or supporting and encouraging more partners to use key cards for power, use renewable energy sources or offering carbon-offsetting options for travel products.” continued Brown.  

COVID negatively impacts attitudes to sustainable travel   

The increase in desire to travel more sustainably was most prevalent among respondents from South Korea, India and Taiwan, 35%, 31% and 31% respectively. However, looking at the figures globally, while 25% have an increased desire to travel more sustainably this compares with 35% whose desire to do so decreased.  The markets reporting the biggest proportional decrease were Indonesia (56%), Thailand (51%) and the Philippines (50%).    

“It’s concerning that many people see sustainable travel as less important today than they did before COVID-19, but I hope that is just a short-term effect, driven by people’s thirst to get back out there and travel any way they can,” Brown concluded.  

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