As sustainable travel models tighten their grip globally, regional airlines like Qantas have long given passengers the choice to “offset” their flight’s carbon use by choosing to fly carbon-neutral and supporting selected environmental conservation projects.
According to Qantas, some 10 per cent of their passengers tick the book to offset flights, with incentives including frequent flyer points and dollar-for-dollar contributions by the airline.
“Offsetting is a key tool in Qantas’ decarbonisation efforts, particularly while alternative aircraft propulsion technology (eg electric) is still many years away” the airline said.
Last week, Australia’s national carrier launched the Aviation Fuel Coalition (SAF Coalition) program, citing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a key driver of decarbonisation. The aviation industry have been joined by key corporate players as foundation members.
According to Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, there’s been strong demand for SAF, which would be a key step in developing the country’s domestic biofuels industry.
“Air travel is a crucial part of doing business for many companies. Companies need to travel to meet customers, suppliers, and partners, but they also want to reduce their impact on the environment. SAF is a great way to do that,” he said.
“The demand for SAF has never been higher but supply is lagging well behind, particularly without a local industry in Australia, and that’s keeping prices several times more expensive than traditional jet kerosene.
“The more leading corporates that join our program/coalition the more feasible a local industry becomes and the more cost-effective the fuel becomes.”
Qantas, the second airline in the world to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, has committed to using 10 per cent of SAF in its overall fuel mix by 2030, and extending this to 60 per cent by 2050.
In May this year, the airline announced a fleet replacement and aims to reduce emissions by at least 15 percent if running on traditional fossil fuels.
“Qantas’ Fly Carbon Neutral program is one of the largest airline offsetting program in the world, with a focus on high integrity projects in Australia and overseas,” the airline stated.
Across the channel in Aotearoa, Air New Zealand aims to have its first zero-emissions aircraft – either cargo or passenger – by 2026 and will begin replacing their domestic fleet with a more sustainable model by 2030.
CEO Greg Foran said conventional business processes would not address the technology or required infrastructure for their bold sustainability goals.
“We want to lead the rollout of zero-emission aircraft and will work alongside aircraft developers, innovators, and infrastructure providers to give them the confidence they’re developing a product that’s a viable option for us,” he shared.
“The learnings we will take from flying an aircraft with next generation propulsion technology from 2026 will pave the way for our long-term green hydrogen and hybrid partners to deliver an aircraft that can replace our Q300 domestic fleet.
“We’re breaking new ground here – it’s not just the aircraft that needs to be developed, but also the infrastructure and regulation required to fly commercially.”
With the country largely built on renewable electricity generation, Mr. Foran said it was an ideal landscape for adopting zero-emission aircrafts.
In a region already beset with climate change disasters, these airline initiatives offer an attractive package for travellers conscious of decreasing their carbon footprints.