Virgin America extends its passenger carbon offset programme to allow for in-flight transactions
Tue 27 Jan 2009 – Following the December launch of its carbon offset programme in partnership with US non-profit carbon offset provider Carbonfund.org, Virgin America is giving its passengers the opportunity to offset their journey during the flight via the airline’s touch-screen seatback in-flight entertainment system, Red, which incorporates a touch screen and a credit card swipe. This makes Virgin America the first US domestic airline to offer such a service. Travellers can also offset their flight at the time of booking through the airline’s ticket confirmation web page.
The scheme will fund two national ventures supported by Carbonfund.org: a biodigester project in the Chino area of California that captures methane from manure, and a project operated by Arkansas-based IdleAire Inc, which produces energy-saving devices for truckers that heat and power their trucks at rest stops without letting their engines idle. Carbonfund.org says all its projects are independently validated and verified.
Virgin America had looked to Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) CarbonOffsetList.org to help select the offset projects. Of the 11 projects featured on CarbonOffsetList.org, four are offered through Carbonfund.org.
“While leading companies are eager to purchase carbon offsets to help meet their sustainability goals, many remain unclear where to start in selecting these offsets,” said Tom Murray, Managing Director, Corporate Partnerships, EDF. “We developed CarbonOffsetList.org to enable companies such as Virgin America to confidently choose credible offsets. CarbonOffsetList.org eliminates the guesswork and offers buyers direct access to a list of thoroughly vetted projects that meet EDF’s high-quality criteria.”
Launched in 2007, Virgin America states its goal is “building an airline from the ground up that makes environmentally-sustainable practices a core part of its business model”. Operating a fleet of new A320-family aircraft, the airline says that since the beginning it has employed carbon reduction practices such as single engine taxiing, idle reverse landings, maximizing use of efficient airport ground power, utilizing advanced GPS avionics to fly more efficiently and what it describes as ‘cost index flying’ – the practice of regulating cruising speeds to reduce fuel burn.
It is a member of Ceres, a coalition of investors, environmental groups and public interest organizations that works with companies to address sustainability challenges. Last year it became the first commercial passenger airline to join the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders programme.