Etihad Airways slashed its carbon emissions by nearly 42 per cent between 2019 and 2022, as it ramped up initiatives to position itself for a more sustainable future.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline's carbon footprint stood at 5.28 million tonnes last year, compared to 9.1 million tonnes three years earlier, the company said in its Sustainability Report 2022 released on Friday.
Etihad was also able to lower its carbon emissions per revenue tonne kilometre to 482g, which is a 26 per cent decrease compared to the 2019 baseline.
The performance was the result of achieving reductions through in-sector measures, aligning with industry voluntary road maps and frameworks, and collaborating with UAE industrial ecosystems, it said.
The airline also said it has remained transparent and proactive on sustainability issues, while continuing to develop a strategic road map for its targets.
"As we look to the future, we remain steadfast in our commitment to reducing our environmental impact and ensuring the sustainability of our operations," Antonoaldo Neves, chief executive of Etihad Aviation Group, said.
"Our sustainability strategy is built on a foundation of collaboration, transparency and innovation, and we will continue to work with our partners, industry peers and government agencies to drive positive change and lead the way towards a greener future for aviation."
Similar to the car industry, the aviation sector is considering hybrid, electric or hydrogen aircraft technologies to promote and achieve sustainable business models.
But while these up-and-coming modes of air transport are still awaited, the industry is looking at alternatives to achieve more sustainable operations today.
European plane maker Airbus last year flew the first A380 powered by 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which the industry sees as a way of making flying more environmentally friendly before the introduction of hybrid, electric or hydrogen aircraft.
Earlier this month, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said it was collaborating with a group of students from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands to build a hydrogen-powered aircraft, a programme that aims to provide insights into how the alternative energy source can be applied to the aviation industry.
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Airlines are also facing pressure from environmental groups to lower their carbon footprint and build back greener operations after the pandemic.
At the International Air Transport Association's annual general meeting in 2021, airlines pledged net-zero carbon emissions from their operations by 2050, bringing the air transport industry in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Etihad had already committed to its carbon emission reduction goals almost two years before the Iata pledge.
The carrier has "led an extensive sustainability strategy focused on enabling industry-wide transformation", Mr Neves said in the report.
Among the highlights of Etihad's sustainable activities in 2022 include the signing of the Neste Airline Collaboration Agreement that is aimed at enabling co-operation between corporates seeking to offset their emissions using SAF credits.
It also signed a preliminary agreement with World Energy to decarbonise flights through in-sector emissions reductions. The two sides also operated the first net-zero flight powered entirely by SAF.
The carrier last year also continued to collaborate with major organisations in the UAE, including Adnoc, Masdar and Tadweer, to develop SAF production capabilities in the UAE.
Etihad Airways aims to triple its number of passengers to 30 million and double its fleet to 150 planes by 2030 as it maps out the “next chapter of growth”, aided by its new planned airport terminal in Abu Dhabi, Mr Neves told The National at the Arabian Travel Market earlier this month.
The airline plans to grow by 10 per cent annually in the next seven years in terms of number of passengers carried and available seats per kilometre, he said.
In January, the company said it was planning a new global recruitment drive for 2023 in search of cabin crew, ahead of the planned return of its Airbus A380 superjumbos in the summer as travel demand continues to grow.