Air New Zealand takes aim at climate change

Aviation Environmental Sustainable fuels

Air New Zealand has laid out a clear plan to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, outlining the action it will take over the next decades to improve its sustainability.

"Despite the Covid-19 pandemic grinding our business to halt, we believe climate change is the biggest crisis facing our airline. And, if anything, our commitment to take real action has only strengthened," says Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran.

"It has never been more important for airlines to take bold steps to ramp up the pace and scale of genuine climate action. We want our customers to know that not only do we have a clear plan, but we already have multiple runs on the board on our journey to becoming a more sustainable airline"

The airline's 2021 Sustainability Report lays out the airline’s path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with four main levers to reduce gross emissions as much as technology will allow before utilising offsetting:

  • Zero emissions aircraft
  • Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
  • Operational efficiency (for example, efficiencies from flight planning)
  • Fleet renewal

By far the biggest contribution to decarbonisation will come from the airline accessing SAF. The Sustainability Report outlines good progress made this year, including taking steps towards making SAF a reality in New Zealand. In July Air New Zealand signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to determine the feasibility of producing SAF in New Zealand.

The airline is also working with aircraft manufacturers including Airbus as it looks to hasten the arrival of zero-emissions aircraft. The report states the airline is pursuing opportunities around electric and hydrogen aircraft as an option for shorter domestic and regional flights, with ambitions to have electric aircraft in its fleet by 2030.

"Air travel is critical to New Zealand’s export and tourism industries, connecting people and products to the world, and the world to us. But this isn't an excuse to do nothing – it underlines why climate change action is so critical and why we need to get this right. This is why we're prepared to take ambitious action to decarbonise.

"We don’t believe our customers will have to choose between flying with us and doing what's right for the planet”.

Air New Zealand has also announced a new Sustainability Framework which is focused on taking bold and genuine action as we aspire to lead the aviation industry globally in sustainability and decarbonisation. The framework has four key focus areas:

  • Caring for New Zealanders
  • Genuine climate action
  • Driving towards a circular economy
  • Sustainable Tourism

Other highlights from the Sustainability Report include: