Members of international airline alliance oneworld commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050
Tue 15 Sept 2020 – The 13 airline members of the oneworld global alliance have united behind a common aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Four members – IAG’s British Airways and Iberia, plus Japan Airlines and Qantas – have already committed to the 2050 target, with a fifth, Finnair, aiming to reach it by 2045. The other major alliance members now joining the pledge include American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and member-elect Alaska Airlines. Also committing include Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, SriLankan Airlines and Russia’s S7 Airlines, whose governments have not yet volunteered to join the international carbon-neutral growth scheme CORSIA. The airlines will develop their own individual approaches to reach the target and collaborate on a number of environmental and sustainability initiatives.
An environmental and sustainability best practices working group co-led by IAG’s Head of Sustainability, Jonathon Counsell, and Qantas Executive Manager Sustainability and Future Planet David Young will coordinate the collaborative effort. Individually, the airlines will employ a range of initiatives and efficiency measures, including investments in sustainable aviation fuels and more fuel-efficient aircraft, reduction of waste and single-use plastics, and through carbon offsetting.
“Alongside our member airlines, we are proud to be the first alliance to commit to net zero emissions by 2050 and play a role in making the industry more sustainable,” commented oneworld CEO Rob Gurney. “We want to thank our member carriers for their support and recognise IAG and Qantas for the leadership they have shown as we committed together to this goal.”
Announcing the goal during last week’s ICAO CO2 Reductions Stocktaking virtual seminar, Gurney said the oneworld governing board had unanimously agreed that environmental sustainability was a crucial priority for the alliance’s members to pursue.
“Why during the Covid-19 pandemic are we are making this commitment now to reduce our emissions? The answer is straightforward – it’s simply the right thing do,” he told participants. “Despite the difficulties we’re all facing, we believe that it’s absolutely crucial that we play our part in addressing climate change. This announcement is a sign of how seriously we’re taking that commitment.”
Commenting on the commitment, Qantas CEO and oneworld Chairman Alan Joyce said it underlined the importance placed by the alliance on becoming a more sustainable industry. “Despite the challenges we are all facing amidst the pandemic, we have not lost sight of the responsibility we have to reduce emissions in the long term and our announcement reflects the strength of that commitment.”
Added IAG Chief Executive Luis Gallego: “Despite the current crisis, it’s absolutely critical that the industry plays its full part in addressing climate change. We were the first airline group worldwide to commit to achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and we’ll continue to lead the industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.”
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said his team was “ready and willing” to reach the goal. “We’re proud to join with our oneworld partners to commit to a more sustainable future for our industry,” he commented. “Each step we take to reduce our impact on the environment – from improving efficiency to adopting low-carbon fuels – contributes to our vision of taking care of customers and team members for generations to come.”
It was important for the industry to seek future solutions to solve the climate challenge and to maintain the positive impacts aviation has for society, said Finnair CEO Topi Manner, who said the airline was participating in zero-emission synthetic fuels research.
Japan Airlines President Yuji Akasaka said the industry would play a vital role in promoting a sustainable future, while Malaysia Airlines CEO Captain Izham Ismail said: “We seek to play a greater part in building a legacy for future generations and are enhancing our own airline’s contribution to global sustainability efforts.”
Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said reducing emissions is modern aviation’s greatest challenge. “The alliance’s commitment to net zero during this uncertain time demonstrates the importance we all place on this duty.”
Pre-crisis, members of oneworld served more than 1,000 airports in over 170 territories and carried almost 540 million passengers a year on a combined fleet of over 3,600 aircraft.
Still to be decided is whether the alliance will require a commitment to the net zero goal as a condition of new membership.