The programme re-launched in late 2016 gives the airline's customers the option to offset the carbon emissions associated with their flights when booking online. The funds collected all go directly towards the purchase of certified carbon credits, which help to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Carbon credits are purchased from a range of permanent native forest projects registered with the New Zealand Government under the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, and from a handful of international sustainable energy projects. Forests are located across New Zealand, from Northland, to the Chatham Islands, to Wellington City Council's Outer Green Belt and Hinewai Reserve on Banks Peninsula.
Air New Zealand Head of Sustainability Lisa Daniell says she is pleased the airline has been able to provide a platform for customers to take greater responsibility for offsetting carbon emissions as well as support afforestation in New Zealand.
"We're delighted to see the programme reach this first milestone with the support of our customers. Climate change is an urgent global issue, and as an airline we know we must play our part in finding solutions. Providing our customers with an easy way to offset the carbon emissions associated with air travel is one way to do this.
"As with anything of this magnitude it's a step in the right direction. Last year we offset 8,700 tonnes of carbon on behalf of all our employees who travelled for work, and we'd obviously love to see even more travellers, including business travellers, join us in offsetting their emissions in the future."
Permanent Forests NZ Partner Ollie Belton says Air New Zealand's FlyNeutral programme is helping to create a stronger market for permanent native forestry and building greater understanding about the importance of creating a better New Zealand for future generations.
"The native forestry projects selected for use within the FlyNeutral portfolio represent premium carbon offsets that in addition to helping reduce climate change impacts, can improve conservation and also enhance community and recreational reserves due to their permanency. It has been great to work with Air New Zealand and landowners to be able to profile and support these projects."
The airline's FlyNeutral voluntary carbon offsetting programme goes above and beyond regulatory obligations for carbon emissions under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, which Air New Zealand itself meets.
Since 2018 Air New Zealand's corporate and government customers have also been able to offset their carbon emissions under the programme. The airline also offsets emissions on behalf of its employees travelling for work.