Etihad to fly eco-friendly Greenliner from London to Abu Dhabi on October 23

Airline will plant a mangrove tree for every passenger on the celebratory ecoFlight

Etihad Airways is operating a celebratory ecoFlight to mark two years since it began its Greenliner programme, which focuses on finding sustainable flight solutions.

On Saturday, October 23, Flight EY20 will operate from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi via Etihad's modified Boeing 787 Greenliner.

Replacing the airline's regular 1.10pm flight to the UAE, the Dreamliner jet will sport a special livery representing the Greenliner partnership between Etihad and Boeing.

Travellers can now book tickets for the celebratory ecoFlight, with fares in economy class starting from Dh3,700 ($1,007).

“The Sustainable Flight will be our latest ecoFlight of many already completed on our 787 Dreamliner, but the ambition and intent of this flight stands it apart from anything we’ve ever done previously,” said Tony Douglas, group chief executive at Etihad Aviation Group.

"It’s no understatement to say this will be our most sustainable flight to date, as well as an accurate look at what the future of flying will look like."

Taking place the week before global leaders arrive in the UK to discuss climate commitments at Cop26, the ecoFlight will allow Etihad and Boeing to conduct further research into how flying can be more sustainable.

Since 2019, when the Greenliner programme began, Etihad and Boeing have operated several flights aboard the Boeing jet focusing on plastic-free in-flight products, optimised airspace management, flight deck tools for more eco-friendly take-offs, noise reduction and the use of sustainable fuel. The coming flight will continue this research.

“The Sustainable Flight on October 23 will be a celebration of everything that has been achieved in the past two years and a great flight for Etihad’s guests who will get to see what the future of commercial air travel looks like,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer at Etihad Aviation Group.

“The fact that sustainability has stayed on the agenda during the pandemic is testament to just how important the topic is to Etihad – the sustainability challenges faced globally will still be around when Covid-19 is no longer an issue.”

Charting an efficient course from London to Abu Dhabi

FILE PHOTO: Travellers walk through Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain February 14, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls//File Photo

The EY20 Sustainable Flight will emit 72 per cent less carbon dioxide equivalent in total than the same flight operated in 2019, thanks to a suite of interventions that will be implemented before, during and after the flight has landed.

Before the flight, the Greenliner will undergo a foam washing process to make sure it has optimal aerodynamics. Pre-flight planning processes will use cutting-edge software and other assessment tools to ensure the jet is on track to fly the most efficient route possible from London to the UAE capital, taking in flight conditions on the day.

All passengers flying on the Greenliner will also be encouraged with incentives for flying without check-in baggage or with lightweight luggage.

Refillable water bottles and in-flight vegan meals

In the air, travellers will be able to choose their in-flight meals from locally sourced options that include a vegan choice, and avoid unsustainable products such as beef or palm oil. Passengers will be given a refillable water bottle to minimise waste from single-use paper cups. They will also be offered lightweight cutlery, sustainable dental kits and carefully sourced in-flight trays and crockery picked for their sustainability values.

Cabin crew on board the EY20 Sustainable Flight will be Etihad Green Ambassadors, meaning they are on-hand to answer any questions that travellers may have about the ecoFlight or the Greenliner programme.

During the almost seven-hour flight, the jet will consume a 38 per cent blend of sustainable aviation fuel. This will help reduce overall emissions when compared to Etihad's regular service on this route. The pilots will use special flight deck tools to ensure they perform the most efficient climb out of Heathrow Airport, and the optimum descent when landing in Abu Dhabi.

After landing, Etihad’s new fleet of electric vehicles will service the Greenliner for logistics such as baggage unloading. Data gathered from sensors on the jet will be added to a database on flight performance which will then be analysed to allow engineers, pilots and technicians to recognise patterns of less sustainable activities during the Greenliner's journey.

Finally, for every passenger on the coming ecoFlight, Etihad will plant a mangrove tree in Abu Dhabi as part of The Etihad Mangrove initiative to offset carbon emissions from flights.

“We understand that current and near-future technology can only take us and the aviation industry so far," said Douglas. "We urgently need to see fundamental advances in technology and support from governments and regulators across the world, so we can overcome the current challenges to reaching the industry target of zero emissions by 2050.”

Updated: October 5th 2021, 10:38 AM