For Air New Zealand, living up to the very high environmental standards expected by New Zealanders and by visitors to this unique country is a huge responsibility.

Over the past year, Air New Zealand has worked to supercharge its social and environmental activities. The company established a sustainability advisory panel that is playing a key role in framing the airline’s sustainability framework and goals.

Among the panel’s six external members are founding director of Forum for the Future Jonathon Porritt, HuntGreen president Suzanne Hunt, and IATA chief economist Brian Pearce.

Air New Zealand has also partnered with Forum for the Future, giving it access to international tools, resources and sustainability expertize.

This work, on top of Air New Zealand’s many programs to cut and offset carbon, reduce fuel and electricity use and cut waste, gives the company an holistic approach to sustainability.

On top of this, Air New Zealand has revised its supplier code of conduct with a focus on sustainable sourcing. This gives greater transparency and traceability through the airline’s supply chain. By 2020, the company aims to have 100% compliance with its code from all of its 4,500 suppliers.

The airline has also introduced an ethical policy relating to cargo that goes beyond prohibited items and covers things such as whale meat, exotic animal trophies and shark fins. 

The airline and its people have become intrinsically involved with local conservation efforts, partnering with the country’s Department of Conservation. This includes supporting New Zealand’s showcase Great Walks biodiversity program. Air New Zealand has assisted in the transport of endangered species to safe new breeding sites around the country, such as with the extremely rare kakapo parrot; this precious cargo even gets its own seat in the airline cabin.

Air New Zealand invests considerable time, thought and resources to its eco-strategy. It constantly adjusts its eco-practices to the ever-changing needs of the planet. And, the ATW editors noted, the Air New Zealand team does something more—they put real heart and pride into their eco-initiatives.

For its exemplary work, the 2016 Eco-Airline of the Year Award goes to Air New Zealand.