Environmental travel award caps a year of international recognition for Etihad and its green initiatives
Etihad INSPIRE flight arrives in Sydney (photo: Seth Jaworski, Airservices Australia)
Thu 15 Dec 2011 – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has won the Environmental Contribution of the Year Award for 2011 by China’s Top Travel magazine. Presented annually to travel companies for demonstrating global leadership in corporate social responsibility, the award was in recognition of Etihad’s efforts in saving washing water and cleaning fluids, and for an improvement in fuel efficiency from reduced aircraft drag. The airline has just operated two environmental best practice research flights from Australia to Abu Dhabi in cooperation with various air traffic control centres, which followed on from a similar initiative undertaken in July as part of the Indian Ocean Strategic Partnership to Reduce Emissions (INSPIRE). This year has also seen the appointment of Etihad’s Linden Coppell as the new chair of IATA’s Environment Committee.
Commenting on the Chinese award, Etihad CEO James Hogan said: “Concern and respect for the environment is part of the Etihad Airways brand DNA so we’re especially delighted to have our commitment to the environment acknowledged with this award.
“We operate the newest, most environmentally efficient aircraft in the skies, and our operations teams work tirelessly to reduce the airline’s fuel burn and emissions, and to identify greener suppliers and partners.”
Last week two Etihad Airbus A340 aircraft operated flights from Melbourne and Sydney which flew routes that took advantage of prevailing jet streams that saved a combined 2.8 tonnes of fuel and 9 tonnes of carbon emissions. If similar savings were possible on just one flight per week between Abu Dhabi and Australia, the airline estimates an annual reduction in carbon emissions of some 1,100 tonnes and a saving of 350 tonnes of fuel.
“In recent years, the technological advances made in aircraft navigation systems have been enormous,” said Hogan. “Aircraft are no longer reliant on ground-based navigation systems but use advanced navigation systems based on the GPS satellite constellations. This allows aircraft to fly an infinitely variable number of different routes between two points, subject to the agreement and approval of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs).
“At Etihad, we strongly advocate industry modernisation that will allow aircraft to fly to the capabilities they now have.”
The Etihad green flight in July was one of four undertaken in conjunction with Emirates and Virgin Australia between the Gulf and Australia under the INSPIRE initiative. INSPIRE involved ANSPs of the Arabian Gulf, Southern Africa, Australia and the South-West Indian Ocean, as well as airport operators in the Gulf and Australia.
Greater operating efficiencies were achieved by being able to operate on a more flexible flight path – a so-called User Preferred Routing – that allows an aircraft to take advantage of any favourable tailwinds or to avoid headwinds. Take-off procedures and continuous descent arrivals also contributed to fuel-saving measures. Other innovations saw aircraft using terminal gates as close as possible to runways and the nomination of secondary landing airports – a prime consideration over vast oceanic airspace such as the Indian Ocean – as close as possible to primary ones.
Etihad’s Head of Environmental Affairs, Linden Coppell, was recently confirmed as Chair of IATA’s Environmental Committee, which is responsible for environmental communication and developing and monitoring the aviation industry’s position on key challenges, including climate change and emissions management.
Previously with Cathay Pacific, Coppell has been at Etihad for three years, where she has been developing and implementing a corporate environmental strategy for the airline. She represents Etihad on various committees including the Arab Air Carriers Association Environmental Policy Group and also chairs the Waste Management Task Force of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group.
Coppell is also the first representative from the Middle East region to hold the IATA position. “The IATA Environment Committee has been instrumental in achieving a unified position on climate change for the airline industry and the development of environment policies and strategies. I look forward to working closely with the committee members and airline environment representatives to further advance our progress in this field.”