How British Airways is leading the way to a sustainable future
As the world reopens and people look forward to flying again, there is an increased focus on the environmental impact. British Airways’ new sustainability programme demonstrates the airline’s commitment to reducing its impact on the planet while also supporting the communities it serves
What’s the plan?
British Airways has launched a new initiative called BA Better World to ensure sustainability is put at the heart of its business. “We’ve described it as our most important journey yet because it’s a vital part of what we want to stand for as we recover from the pandemic,” says Carrie Harris, BA’s Head of Sustainability. The programme has three pillars: people, planet and responsible business. This will include championing diversity and inclusivity for airline colleagues; focusing on the climate and reducing waste; and looking at how British Airways can further support the communities in which it operates.
How does this build on the airline’s previous achievements in sustainability?
For more than 20 years British Airways has played a leading role in ensuring aviation has a sustainable future. It was the first airline to report its carbon footprint and to voluntarily participate in emissions trading schemes. Its parent company IAG was the first airline group in the world to commit to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The airline has also played an active role in community investment. In the ten years since the launch of Flying Start, British Airways’ charity partnership with Comic Relief, more than £26m has been raised through donations from customers and colleagues.
What has BA done to reduce its impact on the environment?
The airline has improved efficiencies both on the ground and in the air. Pushback vehicles have been switched to electric power and aircraft weight has been reduced by installing lighter seats and switching paper flight manuals to tablets in the flight deck. A series of other initiatives has resulted in a significant reduction in food waste and of single-use plastic items on board, while BA’s First duvets and World Traveller Plus amenity kit are made using recycled plastic.
What about the planes themselves?
As well as investing in quieter aircraft that are up to 40% more fuel efficient than those they replace, British Airways is committed to the development and longer-term use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Sustainable aviation fuel can reduce carbon lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel. British Airways has already used the fuel to operate a flight from London Heathrow to Glasgow. “We’ve committed that by 2030, ten per cent of our flights will be powered by SAF,” explains Harris. “And we are also working with innovative startups to develop zero-emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft.” BA Better World is the next step in the airline’s ambition to be a net carbon zero carrier by 2050.
How will BA Better World benefit communities around the world?
Thanks to partnerships with Comic Relief, the British Red Cross and the Disasters Emergency Committee, the airline has to date helped more than 800,000 people in the UK and some of the world’s poorest communities. This has included funding projects that harness sport to change the lives of disadvantaged young people across the world, helping to support children living on the streets of India, and flying vital aid to people living in disaster-struck areas. Alongside a new ambition to reach one million people in need, a new BA Better World Community Fund will allocate grants to projects that meet sustainability criteria.
Can customers get involved?
While customers already have the opportunity to reduce their impact on the environment by offsetting the carbon emissions from their flight, a new feature enables them to buy sustainable aviation fuel via BA’s not-for-profit partner, Pure Leapfrog at BA Fly Carbon Neutral. When on board, customers can also donate to Flying Start by popping any unwanted currency into a charity envelope and handing it to a member of the crew.
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