When it comes to sustainability, this industry is a good citizen. Airports and airlines worldwide, large and small, are doing incredible things to reduce waste, convert to solar and electric power, reduce their carbon and emissions footprints, and actively engage in wildlife and earth-sustaining projects.

The world’s largest carbon-neutral airport, and the only one in North America, is Dallas Fort Worth International.  

On the aircraft and engine side, manufacturers have designed and developed the most low-noise, low-emissions, fuel efficient, biofuel compatible aircraft in the industry’s history. Aerospace companies are joining together to develop and advance electric and hybrid-electric propulsion technologies.

On top of that, aviation is the only industry in the world to voluntarily sign up for, and create, a carbon emissions offsetting reduction program. Under CORSIA, all the world’s airlines began reporting their annual CO2 emissions on the first of January this year. By 2050, this industry is committed to reducing its net CO2 emissions to half of what they were in 2005. 

However, there are so-called “green” political campaigns gaining traction in Europe, in the US, and elsewhere, that are portraying the airline industry as the Bad Guy. Some are even saying, “If you want to be green, don’t fly!”  That is a complete misrepresentation of how this industry operates and what it means to be an airline passenger. 

Those in the air transport industry understand this, but are they doing enough to educate their passengers and the lawmakers for whom “green” has become an attention grabber? Frankly, the aviation industry needs something catchier than CORSIA.

ATW’s 2019 Award winners were keenly aware of the importance both of operating as green companies and messaging what they are doing in sustainability. DFW is this year’s Airport of the Year. Airline of the Year Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr said in his remarks, “We all need to be aware the public is interested in sustainability and we are all well-advised, not only for business reasons, but also for the reputation we need for this industry, for the responsibility we bear, to do the utmost to make flying not only safe and comfortable, but also as clean as possible.” 

Air New Zealand chief pilot David Morgan summed it up best. Receiving the Eco-Airline of the Year Award on behalf of his airline, he said, “We need to work on sustainability in the same way we work on safety if we want to have a viable industry in 10 or 15 years. It’s time for the industry to start working collaboratively and holistically to create better outcomes.”

A collaborative approach to sustainability is in everyone’s best interests.