Major American airline Delta Air Lines has provided customers and any other interested parties with a reflective update on its ‘Flight to Net Zero’ plan in recognition of Earth Month this April. 

Moving towards a more sustainable future 

Delta comes across as wholeheartedly dedicated in its mission to measure its social and environmental impact alongside financial performance equally. 

Pam Fletcher, S.V.P & Chief Sustainability Officer, was one of three speakers. Fletcher commented on – when asked about Delta’s outlook for sustainability – how in order to seek and find more sustainable solutions, industry disruption that’ll bring about new aviation technologies, widespread availability of sustainable aviation fuel and other groundbreaking watershed moments are needed, but they take years and decades to develop. 

With the above in mind, Delta is “accelerating the technologies of tomorrow that will lower aviation’s carbon footprint”, according to Fletcher. She continues to cite key moves Delta will be made in investing in certain technologies:

“In tandem, we are investing in the technologies available today like fleet upgrades, pursuing goals like 50% electric ground support equipment by 2025 and sourcing sustainable aviation fuel that we know can immediately reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions of our business.” 

Allison Ausband, E.V.P & Chief Customer Experience Officer, added to Fletcher’s remarks by veering towards the customer’s personal experience:

“The sustainability mindset Pam is talking about allows us [Delta] to make good on two core promises: to deliver exceptional customer experiences and build a better future for our planet.”

Delta has pushed more sustainable practices in the products and amenities experienced by those who fly with the airline. New artisan-made amenity kits (made from 100% recycled content), reusable and biodegradable service ware (such as bamboo cutlery and biodegradable dishware), recycled bedding and premium canned wine are sustainability-inclined swaps that will, according to Ausband, reduce onboard single-use plastic consumption “by approximately 4.9 million pounds per year”, which is roughly the same weight as “1,500 standard-sized cars.” 

Delta Airlines aircraft
Delta has also started offering an in-flight plant-based menu. | © Getty Images

Delta recognises that consumers across various sectors, not just aviation, are becoming increasingly more environmentally savvy and sustainability conscious. And so these practices provide some positive rebate for Delta in terms of marketing, advertising and an increase in demand as an additional consequence. Dan Janki, E.V.P & Chief Financial Officer, echoes this:

“Consumers want to support brands that share their values. Companies do, too. Our corporate customers proactively come to us asking how we can partner to help them meet their sustainability goals…ignoring this isn’t an option.” 

What is Delta doing to make a positive impact on our planet?

Delta Air Lines, as a legacy carrier has a glowing reputation to uphold. A household name, it is reasonable that the airline will be taking steps towards improving its sustainability practices. 

Some of the actions Delta have taken so far include the acceleration of the retirement of 200+ least fuel-efficient aircraft which will contribute to its 2022 goal of using at least 6% less fuel per available seat mile compared to 2019. This will also improve customer experience, as Delta’s new A321neo aircraft (brought in to replace the retired aircraft and will start operating in May) includes elevated, luxurious and thoughtful touches throughout that will improve the flying experience for everyone, not just those in First-Class.  

Delta A321neo
Delta made a large order of 26 A321neo aircraft that will be delivered over the year. They are 20% more fuel-efficient than the current A321ceos. | © Delta Air Lines

Partnering with European aviation manufacturer Airbus has also been a positive step for the Atlanta-based airline in terms of pursuing its ‘Flight to Net Zero’ goal. 

Delta is also looking to continue investing in sustainable aviation fuel. 

Dan Janki has said that customers can count on Delta to be transparent about its progress by disclosing ESG data. 

ESG data provides information on the environmental, social, and governance factors of a company. It is mainly used to measure how ethically viable and sustainable company operations are. 

Janki states that in Delta’s annual ESG report, its goals and where they are being achieved are shared transparently but with ambition at the forefront. 

Fletcher concludes by making a very important point:

“Coalitions and collaboration with like-minded groups are the only way climate change issues will be solved, regardless of industry….And I think that’s what we’ll want to work towards now: collaborating with partners in government and the industry on goals that can benefit anyone, while as a company also finding ways to push forward and innovate like no one else can.” 

What do you think about Delta’s steadfast sustainability push? Should other airlines be following their example? Let us know in the comments below.

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