Virgin Blue's carbon offset programme reaches its first one million seat milestone
Fri 18 Sep 2009 – Australia’s Virgin Blue has honoured a Hobart resident who became the airline’s one millionth seat sector passenger to offset the carbon emissions of their flight. The presentation was made by scientist and conservationist Professor Tim Flannery, who encouraged all air travellers to offset their flight emissions. Virgin Blue’s carbon offset programme was launched in 2007, which the airline claims was the first in the world to be government backed, and is required to be certified under the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Friendly initiative.
Virgin Blue’s CEO, Brett Godfrey, said: “As an airline group, we have made a commitment to minimize our environmental impacts and work towards a sustainable future for the airline industry and we are pleased to take this opportunity to thank Ms Townley and every one of our guests who choose to also take responsibility for their impacts on the environment.
“As far as we know, this is the first time any airline offset programme has reached such a significant milestone but I personally would be happier if we had hit the 10 million-seat mark rather than one million, even though this is still a very positive sign. It shows more and more people are taking action on a personal level to help minimize greenhouse gas emissions.”
Godfrey stated that about 10% of the airline’s customers have chosen to offset their flight emissions.
Professor Flannery said: “I believe it’s important for people to address climate change through their everyday decisions and to take individual responsibility for minimizing our impacts on the environment, because that’s the only way we’ll get a committed constituency for greater political action.
“For many of us in the world today, no matter how much we genuinely care about this issue, air travel is something we cannot avoid as part of our working lives. All it takes is ticking a box and spending an extra dollar or two to offset the emissions relating to your flight. It is the smallest things we do that can have the greatest cumulative effect.”
Monies collected through the offset programme contribute to projects in Australia and New Zealand. On the Virgin Blue network, contributions go towards Australia’s Department of Climate Change’s Approved Greenhouse Friendly Abatement Projects. Contributions on the Group’s New Zealand-based Pacific or Polynesian Blue network are spent on abatement projects from the Ministry of Environment’s Project to Reduce Emissions Programme.
The Virgin Blue Airlines Group has had a dedicated team in place for several years working on programmes to reduce emissions through improved aircraft operations and adopting advanced technologies. It is a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, which seeks the commercial development of sustainable aviation biofuels, and also the Aviation Global Deal Group, which is calling for international aviation to be included in a post-Kyoto framework.
“We have long acknowledged the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and I have made it a point to articulate this to industry colleagues, and at Virgin Blue we have taken an integrated approach to addressing greenhouse gas emissions through internal efficiency programmes and industry-wide initiatives,” said Godfrey.