Sustainability in the Air: December Edition

In what can be called a ‘watershed year for sustainability action’ in the aviation world, announcements have been trickling in almost daily about leading industry players making pledges to tackle climate change, partnering with customers to bring down carbon emissions, and investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel or completing SAF powered test flights. All while airports are putting together their sustainability roadmaps and identifying environmental, social and governance goals. Read on for our last sustainability news round up of 2021 to learn what happened in December.


London Luton Airport (LLA) has been awarded Level 3 of the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) scheme. Overall, the airport reduced direct carbon emissions by over 30%, despite a 23% increase in passenger numbers between 2016 and 2019. LLA has committed to achieving carbon neutrality for its own operations by no later than 2026, whilst the airport is currently developing a carbon reduction strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

London Luton Airport


Australian carrier Qantas announced a new Green membership tier for its frequent flyer program. The new initiative will reward members who make sustainable choices — both in air travel and in daily life. To qualify for the Green tier, Qantas frequent flyers will need to complete at least five sustainable choices each year across six areas — flying, travel, lifestyle, sustainable purchases, reducing impact, and giving back.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced its forthcoming Conscious Choices — a range of sustainable initiatives offered by the Etihad Guest program. Etihad’s frequent flyer program members can earn tier miles and additional benefits through choices made while in the air or on the ground. For instance, bringing less baggage onboard or using miles to offset carbon emissions.

Both schemes are set to roll out in early 2022.

S7 Airlines performed the first flight using biofuel in Russia. The new A320neo, fuelled with a blend of sustainable aviation fuel based on organic compounds and classical aviation fuel, took off from the Airbus factory in Toulouse (France) and landed in Domodedovo airport. The flight was a transfer flight, with no passengers on board. S7 states that the biofuel portion of the blend was 10%, the maximum that the fuel company in Toulouse can provide. This reduced the flight’s CO2 emissions by 7% (1.7 tons).


ZeroAvia, the leading innovator in zero-emission aviation powertrains, and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited (“De Havilland Canada”) announced that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a line-fit and retrofit program for De Havilland Canada’s aircraft models, using hydrogen-electric propulsion in both new and in-service aircraft. As part of the MOU, De Havilland Canada will be issued options to purchase 50 ZeroAvia hydrogen-electric engines. These options will be confirmed once a definitive agreement has been completed between De Havilland Canada and ZeroAvia.

De Havilland Canada


In 2021, the air transport industry has been forced to adapt nearly all operations to adhere to rapidly changing regulations and travel requirements, from health status verifications to fluctuating border controls based on virus hotspots and emerging new COVID-19 variants like Omicron. Sébastien Fabre, CEO, SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, examines the five critical travel technology trends emerging from the pandemic and set to transform the industry in 2022 and beyond. He calls for sustainability to be baked into today’s essential industry transformation.


IATA announced a further step in its program to help airlines with their environmental obligations, welcoming Qatar Airways as the first airline to make a trade using the IATA Clearing House on the Aviation Carbon Exchange, a platform for trading carbon credits powered by Xpansiv market CBL. Using the ICH will reduce the time of offset tradings to two days, offering a secure and safe mechanism to the airline. Furthermore, on the seller side the ICH guarantees payment, again with a speedy two-day process, so its excellent news for all participants.

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