Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) this week became one of only two global carriers (alongside Finnair) to achieve Stage 2 status of the IATA Environmental Assessment Programme (IEnvA); a comprehensive airline environmental management programme.

IEnvA seeks to introduce sustainability standards for airlines to cover all areas of an airline’s operations including air quality and emissions, noise, fuel consumption and efficient operations, recycling, energy efficiency, sustainable procurement, biofuels and many more. SAA was also one of six airlines to participate in the initial phase, Stage 1, of the Programme in June 2013.

IEnvA is a stringent environmental assessment programme based on recognised international environmental management systems such as ISO 14001. It was developed jointly by leading airlines and environmental consultants and SAA has been part of this process from its genesis and currently chairs the IEnvA Oversight Working Group.

SAA conducted its Stage 2 assessment in record time, six months prior to the two year deadline. “Participation in the programme and this achievement affirms SAA’s commitment in answering its dual mandate and as a leading African and global airline,” says SAA Acting CEO Mr. Nico Bezuidenhout. The IEnvA standards set down will serve as a guideline for 240 other airlines around the world.

SAA’s participation in the programme forms part of the Long-Term Turnaround Strategy with a dual mandate focus. Last year the airline launched the first African biofuels project, the transformation of tobacco oil to jet fuel, with sector role players. “Responsible environmental management has the potential to deliver commercially beyond the clear social and environmental benefit. Projects such as the tobacco biofuels venture could provide several future commercial impetus ranging from input cost benefits through to the value of technology,” adds Mr. Bezuidenhout.

The initiative was followed by the introduction of new fuel efficient navigation approaches (RNP-AR: Required Navigational Performance, Authorisation Required). “The enhanced aircraft approaches’ fuel savings provide immediate bankable fuel savings.” Inside the organisation there is also an on-going drive to embed a culture environmental sustainability with policy directing the airline toward ultimate emission reduction leadership in both continental and global aviation.

SAA plans to continue demonstrating its commitment to its mandate concomitant to the carrier’s environmental programme. “IEnvA is a robust programme that effectively cuts through the complexities of the aviation sector; it is inspiring to our staff, a positive step for the industry and attractive to travellers. The initiative will ultimately be good for business and is a step toward ensuring future-proofing of aviation,” says Mr. Bezuidenhout.

Note to journalists:
IEnvA has been developed in conjunction with airlines so that it addresses industry needs and specific concerns. IEnvA assesses environmental performance against sustainability standards across a broad range of disciplines, including (but not limited to) the management of air quality and emissions, noise, fuel consumption and operational efficiency, recycling, energy efficiency, sustainable procurement, and biofuel utilisation. As a result, IEnvA helps airlines to simplify regulatory compliance, demonstrate good governance and achieve financial savings from the better use of resources. IEnvA implementation followed a phased approach due to the complexity and global presence of airlines as well as the number of role players and touch points. There are two implementation phases:

Stage 1:
Stage 1 which ensures an airline has developed the foundation and framework for its environmental management system. Stage 1 also certifies an airline has identified and complied with its environmental legal requirements.

Stage 2:
IEnvA Stage 2 assessment, the highest level of IEnvA achievement, ensures that an airline has implemented all of the IEnvA Programme Standards, identified and mitigated its significant environmental impacts and has set performance targets. Stage 2 also certifies that an airline has developed processes for monitoring and reviewing its performance against its targets and objectives, thus driving environmental efficiency.