Etihad expands 'green' loyalty programme with perks for corporate travellers

Airline expects business travel to reach at least 60-65% of 2019 levels this year, senior executive says

Etihad's new Conscious Choices will make it the world's first airline loyalty programme to reward customers for minimising their carbon footprint in the air and on the ground. Courtesy Etihad

Etihad Airways expanded its green loyalty programme with rewards for companies to reduce their carbon footprint through carbon offsetting, investments in sustainable aviation fuel and adding green surcharge fares, as the airline expects an uptick in business travel and builds on its sustainability efforts.

Etihad expects its business travel segment to recover to at least 60 to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels this year and its new Corporate Conscious Choices programme aims to make corporate travel "as green as possible" by encouraging companies and their employees to make more sustainable choices, Martin Drew, Etihad's senior vice president of global sales and cargo, said at an online media roundtable on Wednesday.

The focus has often been on how governments and regulators are working to mitigate climate change, but companies also have a duty to act in more sustainable ways as part of doing business, Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group's chief executive, said in a statement.

"We need corporates’ help and there is an equal responsibility for corporates to do what they can to reduce their own carbon footprint," Mr Douglas said. “All corporates and organisations need transportation, whether it’s for travel or their supply chain. Our aim with the launch of Corporate Conscious Choices is to recognise those corporations that take the most sustainable actions through rewards and recognition."

The corporate green loyalty scheme is the latest in the airline’s sustainability ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and halve 2019 emissions by 2035. The programme expands on

Sustainability has been at the forefront of Etihad’s operations over the past two years, spearheaded by the airline’s Greenliner programme, despite the global pandemic.

"Omicron we hope is just a temporary blip, but we started to see a decent amount of business travel returning in the tail-end of last year and we're are seeing it starting to come back again," Mr Drew said. "The big Abu Dhabi corporates that we have, they've started travelling again and the feedback we get from global corporates is that as the year progresses, business travel will start to return."

The corporate programme has "resonated very well" among Etihad's corporate clients with global travel management firm CWT and IT consulting firm Accenture signing up, Mr Drew said.

"In the development of this programme, we surveyed many of our key corporate clients, and we've now designed a platform that can be adapated to the unique needs of individual businesses," he told reporters. "

Rewards and incentives are measured against four core pillars of sustainable aviation fuels, green surcharges and carbon offsets and earning miles.

Through Corporate Conscious Choices scheme, companies can bulk buy SAF with Etihad, which will be fully accredited and can be used to offset against the company's Scope 3 emission requirement. Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organisation, but that the organisation indirectly impacts in its value chain, as defined by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, by the most widely used international accounting tool.

Companies can also choose to have a green surcharge added to each corporate travel flight ticket, which is then invested in offset solutions, such as SAF, planting mangroves, reforestation or community projects in Africa. The surcharge will pay or partially pay for the emissions created by staff on business travel, and these investments will be fully accredited where possible to provide the corporate with Scope 3 emission reductions, Etihad said.

The surcharge is about one per cent of the total fare, Mr Drew said.

When business travellers fly on Etihad and earn Guest Miles, the airline will award the miles to their organisation as well, it said. Corporate Conscious Points can be used to offset corporate travel, everyday activities or purchase sustainable products from the Etihad Guest Reward Shop.

Corporate Conscious Points can also be invested in either an Etihad Offset programme or a programme of the company's choice to offset the emissions produced on every Etihad business travel flight.

"With governmental pressure for corporates to demonstrate and uphold ESG standards, integrating offset schemes within corporates may raise these corporates scores in ESG indices, and Etihad will also work with partners on other ESG initiatives," the airline said.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 11:10 AM