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5 Airlines That Are Taking On Sustainability

schedule14 Minute Read

30-Jan-2023 Laura Curtis

5 Airlines That Are Taking On Sustainability

The technologies and investments that are protecting the planet

With much of the world adapting many of their practices in an effort to become more sustainable, we're taking a look into how some of the major airlines around the world are developing their technology to combat this. Read on to discover how some of our trusted partners are monitoring, investing in, and changing the game of sustainability in aviation.

British Airways

As an industry leader, British Airways are proud to be part of the first airline group in the world (IAG) to commit to becoming carbon net zero by 2050. They have invested in new, modern aircraft that are up to 40% more efficient than the aircraft they replace, making permanent changes to the way they fly. This industry giant has also formed partnerships to support the development of sustainable aviation fuel, zero emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon capture technology.


Committed to protecting the environment, British Airways are working towards eliminating single-use plastics and reducing food waste, implementing a circular economy and keeping resources in use for as long as possible through innovative product design, re-use and recycling and through partnerships with suppliers.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel

In order to stay on track to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, British Airways have been looking to progress the development and deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuel with their partnerships and investments. In April 2021, IAG became the first European airline group to commit to powering 10% of all flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030, investing $400 million in developing sustainable aviation fuel over the next 20 years.

British Airways made a world-first move to use SAF produced on a commercial scale in the UK after signing a multi-year agreement with Phillips 66. Their partnership with Velocys will help convert household and commercial waste into SAF, whilst their partnership with LanzaJet will provide them with SAF from an American plant that will be powering a number of flights very soon.

First Class
First Class

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic operates one of the youngest and cleanest twin-engine fleets in the skies, with an average aircraft age of just under seven years. After a 15-year strong history as a leader in sustainability, the airline issued a multi-billion-dollar investment in transforming their fleet over the last decade which has so far delivered a 20% reduction in fleet carbon emissions.

Technology Innovators

Expanding its fleet with more energy efficient aircrafts, the latest addition to Virgin Atlantic's fleet is the A330neo. Its aerodynamic design makes it one of the most efficient aircrafts in the sky. And Virgin Atlantic's investment in change goes much further than their fleet. Committed to working with new technology innovators that can develop the breakthrough technologies for change, Virgin Atlantic has been partnering with LanzaTech since 2011 to advocate for Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Having flew the world's first commercial flight operated on sustainable fuels in 2018, they continue to support build of the first UK SAF plant by 2025.

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, commented: "Aviation is a truly global industry, and we can't tackle this on our own. That's why we're continuing to work closely with the UK's Jet Zero Council and Sustainable Aviation, as well as aligning with innovation and technology partners across the industry and beyond."

Upper Class Cabin
Upper Class Cabin

Air Canada

With a $50 million investment fund towards sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), other low carbon aviation fuel (LCAF) development, carbon reduction and removal technologies, Air Canada supports the innovative technologies that are driving sustainability in the aviation industry. They continue to evaluate the practical applications of renewable energy sources such as biogas and renewable electricity, as well as energy transition measures. Whilst they will always promote safety and performance, hydrogen, electric and hybrid aircraft technologies present exciting future opportunities for Air Canada and the aviation industry.

Energy Efficient Fleet And Operations

Air Canada's modernised narrow-body fleets like the Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 MAX have proven to be more energy efficient than older aircrafts, projecting an average of approximately 20% less fuel consumption, roughly 20% less CO2e and 50% less nitrogen oxide per seat. And they continue to enhance the efficiency of their operations by installing energy-saving equipment in their facilities, such as high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and low-energy LED lighting, as well as the addition of car charging stations to support sustainable commuting.
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner


Taking pride in their commitment to sustainability, Emirates Group considers eco-efficiency as a pillar to their operations both in the air and on the ground. Striving to be leaders in environmental performance, Emirates Group have not only made multi-billion-dollar investments in the most modern, eco-efficient technology available across their aircraft, engines and ground equipment, but they also look to operate their assets in the most environmentally-responsible manner, and are committed to complying with all applicable environmental regulations and standards.

Lowering Emissions

There are wide-ranging benefits of operating a modern fleet, and with Emirates' policy of investing in the most modern, eco-efficient technology available it also means that they have one of the youngest fleets in the industry. The modern, wide-body fleet reduces both noise and engine emissions, with the Airbus A380s among the quietest large aircraft available.

Maintaining Performance

To keep emissions low, the Emirates Engineering team ensures that the aircraft are always at their peak performance, and the engine washing procedures ensure that the internal engine components are clean, which then maintains fuel-efficient performance and prolongs the useful life of the engine. Emirates also saves thousands of litres of water each time they wash an aircraft by using a 'drywash' procedure. Having a clean aircraft exterior also helps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by making the aircraft lighter and more aerodynamic.
Emirates Sideview
Emirates Sideview

United Airlines

United Airlines are on a mission to combat climate change and reduce their emissions with the goal of protecting our planet so that we can continue to appreciate its wonders. And with an eco-consciousness that runs throughout their operations, United were the awarded the Airline Strategy Awards 2022 Winner for Environment, Social & Government.

Sustainable Aviation

From recycling of paper, plastic and aluminium, and using only eco-sustainable cleaning products for the aircrafts to their Eco-Skies Alliance program where United work with leading global corporations to help power flying in a more sustainable way and help make sustainable aviation the norm, sustainability is a key consideration for United Airlines

Scott Kirby, Chief Executive Officer of United says "We're embracing a new goal to be 100% green by 2050... taking the harder, better path of actually reducing the emissions from flying. We also realise there's a limit to what a single company can do alone. That's why we are continuing to seek opportunities to collaborate".

Laura  Curtis

Laura Curtis

Senior Copywriter

Whether it's a short-haul weekend away or an exciting international adventure, I'm always eager for my next trip. I've been lucky to travel in abundance, and each time I come home, I bring back unforgettable stories that I love to share.

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