Etihad Airways, the second flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has halved its carbon emissions by a substantial 56% between 2018 and 2021, thanks to its focus on sustainability-conscious initiatives and practices. 

Etihad is going green 

The popular UAE carrier is united in name and in its mission to improve its business model’s sustainability. 

According to Etihad’s 2020-2021 Sustainability Report released on Friday, the airline’s carbon footprint was at 4,310,592 tonnes last year compared with 9,828,970 tonnes three years earlier. 

The airline said that the impressive reduction in CO2 emissions was due to the success of its sustainable initiatives, including the Boeing Greenliner and the Airbus A350, also known as the Sustainable50. The Sustainable50 is an Airbus A350-1000 jet that is expected to enter service this quarter, and is considered to be a “world-beating product.”  

Etihad Airbus A350-1000s
Mikail Houari, president of Airbus for Africa and the Middle East, with Etihad chief Tony Douglas in front of the A350-1000 / Sustainable50. | © Etihad Airways

The UAE carrier was fair to note that reduced operations as a consequence of COVID-19 restrictions also played a part in its reduced carbon footprint.  

However, annually from 2018, Etihad’s carbon emissions decreased by approximately 7% in 2019 and by 53% in 2020. 2021 saw a marginal 1% rise as operations began to recover when COVID-19 restrictions across the globe began to ease. 

Tony Douglas, group chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, spoke on how the steps that need to be taken by Etihad to improve emissions and address sustainability shortcomings need to be “bold” and “decisive”. He continued:

“That is why we have been insistent that we continue to focus on the question as a long-term strategic priority for our business.”

Etihad’s decisive approach has been proven by the fact that the carrier had committed to carbon emission reduction targets almost two years before airlines pledged net-zero carbon emissions from their operations by 2050 at the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting last October. 

Etihad’s Greenliner programme started in 2019, and the Greenliner (the modified Boeing 787) touched down at Abu Dhabi International Airport in January 2020. The Greenliner will be used for testing and investigative purposes of new technology for Etihad and Boeing that will help reduce carbon emissions and make flying more sustainable in general. 

Elsewhere, Etihad has said that it is “well on its way” to fulfilling its pledge to reduce single-use plastics by 80% this year. American carrier Delta Air Lines has already made the switch, offering reusable and biodegradable service ware (bamboo cutlery and biodegradable dishware) on its flights. 

Etihad’s 2020-2021 Sustainability Report set out a “clear and ambitious” path forward, including securing $1.2 billion in the first sustainability-linked loan tied to environmental, social, and governance targets in global aviation.

Etihad also backs the UAE’s participation in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, an initiative from the International Civil Aviation Organisation that will work towards stabilising aviation net carbon emissions across the globe.

Announced on Earth Day yesterday, Etihad launched a week-long testing programme on 30+ flights that will test operational efficiencies, technology, and procedures.

 

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