Explore how airlines are implementing sustainable practices to reduce the environmental footprints of the aviation sector to combat climate change.
Eco-friendly travel is an increasingly popular concept among environmentally conscious individuals. The airline industry, which is responsible for a significant portion of global carbon emissions, has recognized the need to implement sustainable practices in order to reduce their environmental impact. Many airlines have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint and improve sustainability in various ways.
Reducing Fuel Consumption
One of the most significant ways in which airlines are implementing sustainable practices is by reducing their fuel consumption. Airlines are constantly investing in new aircraft technology that is more fuel-efficient, which ultimately reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Akasa Air recently invested in Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which are resulting in a 20% reduction in fuel use and emissions. They also generate 50% less noise and offer 20% lower airframe maintenance costs.
Air India has recently revealed its adoption of semi-automated robotic equipment called TaxiBot at Delhi and Bengaluru airports. This move is expected to lead to a reduction of 15,000 tonnes in fuel consumption over the course of three years.
Reducing Paper & Plastic Waste
Many airlines are implementing paperless systems, such as electronic boarding passes and in-flight entertainment systems. This reduces the amount of paper used and, consequently, the amount of waste generated. In addition, some airlines are reducing plastic waste by eliminating single-use plastics on board, such as straws and stirrers. Others are encouraging passengers to bring their own refillable water bottles or offering free water refill stations in the airport.
Many airlines are installing low-flow faucets and toilets on their aircraft to reduce water consumption. Some airlines have even implemented a system that captures and recycles the water used during the aircraft’s lavatory flush. This reduces water consumption and conserves resources.
Use of Renewable Energy
Finally, many airlines are implementing sustainable practices in their operations, such as energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy sources. In 2015, Cochin International Airport, situated in the southern state of Kerala, achieved the distinction of becoming the world’s first airport to meet all its energy needs with solar power. Similarly, in 2022, Mumbai Airport switched to completely renewable sources for its energy requirements.
Sustainable Ground Operations
Ground operations refer to the activities that take place on the ground, such as aircraft de-icing, taxiing, and loading and unloading of passengers and cargo. These activities also contribute to carbon emissions and have a negative impact on the environment. Airlines are investing in electric and hybrid ground support vehicles, which emit significantly fewer emissions than their traditional counterparts. These vehicles are also quieter and more efficient, reducing noise pollution and saving on fuel costs.
Carbon Offsetting Program
Carbon offsetting is the process of investing in projects that reduce or eliminate carbon emissions to offset one’s own carbon footprint. Many airlines offer passengers the option to offset their carbon emissions through voluntary contributions to carbon offsetting programs. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has developed a global carbon offsetting program called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). This program is designed to help airlines reduce their carbon footprint by offsetting their carbon emissions through carbon credits.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) can be produced from waste and agricultural by-products or via hydrogen-based power-to-liquid technology. It has the potential to be 100% less carbon-intensive than conventional jet fuel throughout its lifecycle. The aviation industry is faced with the challenges of reducing emissions and waste, and the adoption of SAF presents a promising opportunity to tackle both of these issues simultaneously.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), is a group of airlines that are committed to accelerating the development and commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels. The SAFUG works with stakeholders across the industry to develop policies, practices, and technologies that support the sustainable development of aviation.
The Bottom Line
Airlines are implementing a range of sustainable practices to reduce their environmental impact and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change. As travelers, we can also play our part by choosing airlines that prioritize sustainability and making conscious choices to reduce our own environmental impact while traveling. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable future for the aviation industry and the planet as a whole. However, the aviation sector in India is taking significant steps for implementing sustainable practices.