Spotlight on SkyTeam Sustainability
Among one of the aviation industry’s top priorities is addressing environmental concerns and seeking concrete solutions to improve its environmental activities. And although it will be an ever-evolving process, there have been recent signs of significant improvements. For example, according to IATA, airlines have improved efficiency and CO2 emissions by almost 20 percent over the past 10 years. And with the G8’s recent call for a global sectoral approach to reduce emissions, there is more focus than ever on the industry’s environmental actions.
In this month’s NewsFlash, we take an inside look into how the SkyTeam member airlines work individually and as an alliance to meet the growing demand for worldwide mobility while at the same time taking steps to minimize its environmental impact.
SkyTeam’s environmental commitment
In June 2008, SkyTeam signed a corporate social responsibility (CSR) statement outlining the alliance’s key social commitments, including its dedication to protecting the environment. Created and signed by all member airlines, the CSR statement is structured around three key pillars: promoting social responsibility; realizing equitable, economic prosperity; and protecting the environment.
Although the starting point for the alliance-wide commitment was Air France-KLM’s own CSR statement, the SkyTeam version was developed collaboratively. For example, the group first audited individual member airline efforts in regards to environmental issues, social policies and social contributions. With the results in hand, the team held extensive discussion and debate. If there was not consensus on an issue, it was left out of statement.
Bringing the statement to life
To further embody the statement and the alliance’s environmental initiatives, SkyTeam member airlines work together in a team approach through the Sustainability Working Group. The group oversees the alliance’s commitments to protection of the natural environment in terms of compliance with industry standards and is also focused on ways to:
- Analyze and reduce its environmental impact: Each airline has guidelines for operational control for all activities regarding the environment — be it in the air or on the ground as part of maintenance, office facilities, etc. For example, SkyTeam member Air France has asked all suppliers to sign a specific purchase CSR statement for the last five years and Delta Air Lines has worked with several suppliers on recycling initiatives on board. Through the development and use of environmental management systems, airlines are able to keep a precise monitoring of things like CO2 emissions and can then set actionable objectives to reduce them. SkyTeam members have already seen strong success in reduction goals — for example, China Southern Airlines consumed 20.8 percent less standard coal and 11 percent less passenger flight fuel consumption in 2008 compared to 2005. In addition, Air France-KLM was honored by Airline Business in the Environment category of the Airline Strategy Awards for its definition and implementation of a global environmental strategy.
- Consider environmental issues when it’s time for fleet renewal: Knowing that fleet decisions can both reduce noise and air emissions, including greenhouse gasses, member airlines have taken steps to replace older models to improve efficiency. For example, Air France has been replacing B747-300s with B777s and Korean Air has ordered more fuel efficient aircraft, B787s and A380s, to replace its current fleet in operation. Also, Aeroflot plans to replace its 26 Tupolev Tu-154s with the Airbus A320 family aircraft by 2010.
- Ensure awareness of environmental goals and objectives and support employee-driven initiatives: Some members have dedicated intranet sites to raise awareness for employees while others take active steps to engage employees — be it by providing commute options for employees (teleworking for reservation staff, company-sponsored vanpools and carpools) or encouraging employees to bring recyclable materials from home to workplace recycling centers. As an alliance, SkyTeam shares its common vision, via vehicles like its sponsorship of NBTA’s 2009 Green Travel Summit in the U.S.
While SkyTeam’s member airlines will always have their own initiatives, collectively as alliance, the statement serves as a catalyst for ongoing discussions. For example, the group is exploring joint initiatives: including recycling and carbon offset programs; cooperation on purchase or sharing of electric and alternative fuel ground service equipment; collaboration on airport facilities’ energy-saving initiatives such as solar panels; and a joint perspective on environmental health issues such as aircraft disinfection and water quality.
SkyTeam’s initiatives support economic development and connect people and cultures while at the same time recognizing the potential environmental and social consequences of the alliance’s activities. And with the building blocks of a designated Sustainable Working Group and CSR statement, SkyTeam and its partner airlines will continue to evolve its environmental commitment and seek actionable items to promote environmental quality and social progress.
Update on SkyTeam livery
Last April, SkyTeam unveiled its new livery design as Delta Air Lines flight 47 took off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and touched down at Milan’s Malpensa Airport.
As of July 2009, SkyTeam is pleased to announce that the following five additional member airlines have painted at least one of their aircraft with the SkyTeam livery:
767-200,which also unveiled its new business class cabin in May 2009;
- Alitalia’s Boeing 767 entered service in May 2009 operating on flights to North America;
- Czech Airlines’ ATR42 flew its inaugural flight on May 20 to Munich, Germany;
- Air France’s Boeing 777-300ER landed at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport on June 10 to join the airline’s fleet;
- China Southern Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER was presented in an unveiling ceremony on June 16.