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U.S. Airlines Highlight Commitment to Sustainability Throughout Earth Month

U.S. airlines are working everyday across the aviation industry and with government leaders in a positive partnership to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. U.S. airlines transport more than 2.6 million passengers and 61,000 tons of cargo per day – all while contributing only 2 percent of the nation’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more about our work to help develop cost-effective sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) here.

We are also working to reduce the industry’s non-CO2 emissions, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxide. Learn more here.

Throughout the month of April, Airlines for America (A4A) and U.S. airlines have been highlighting our commitment to making operations more sustainable.

Alaska Airlines: Chief Pilot JP Wilson discussed the steps Alaska is taking to becoming a greener and more sustainable airline. With a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, Alaska has created a five-part plan to get there: operational efficiency, fleet modernization, SAF, new technology and high-quality carbon removals.

Alaska has already made strides toward their five-part plan. In 2021, they revamped their aircraft to aircraft with 22 percent more fuel efficiency on a seat-by-seat basis compared to the ones replaced. The airline has also invested in their technology to optimize flight routes for emissions savings, works with the government to make the best use of our nation’s airspace and have gravitated toward electric and other renewable options for groundwork equipment. Another big piece to Alaska’s five-part plan has already been going for over a decade – Alaska has been utilizing different certified types of SAF and mixing it with traditional jet fuel.

Alaska has also become the first U.S. airline to significantly cut waste by discontinuing the use of single-use plastic cups. This initiative will prevent approximately 55 million plastic cups from entering landfills annually. Through their partnership with Boxed Water is Better, Alaska has eliminated 2.2 million pounds of plastic waste.

American Airlines: American Airlines has pledged that every mile donated towards Miles for Our Plant during Earth Month will go directly to the National Park Foundation. American and the National Park Foundation began their partnership in 2021, joining forces to safeguard our planet’s natural resources and make significant strides in the fight against climate change.

Atlas Air: Atlas is dedicated to our planet and communities through its environmental, social and governance (ESG). Their commitment to sustaining and safeguarding natural resources, empowering their employees and business partners and upholding transparency and accountability is integral to the company’s long-term growth and success. Atlas is committed not only during Earth Month, but all year round to reducing their carbon footprint and protecting our beautiful planet.

Delta Air Lines: Throughout April, Delta celebrated Earth Month by hosting a series of engagements. GREEN UP, Delta’s sustainability focused business resource group (BRG) partnered with Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) in a month-long challenge in efforts to recycle the highest number of materials. Delta employees participated in Global Volunteer Month where they joined in garden cleanup in Atlanta, a beach cleanup in Miami, a park cleanup in New York City and many more. Another activity Delta is taking part in this month is an Employee Travel Guide where Delta employees are featured across Delta’s social media channels with recommendations for a more sustainable travel experience.

FedEx: FedEx Express teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation and the Garden City Fund, a registered charity under the Singapore National Parks Board (NParks), to plant 80 trees. The event took place on April 20, 2024, along Siglap Linear Park and had 60 volunteers from FedEx participate. This event supported NPark’s Plant-A-Tree programme and contributed to the OneMillionTrees movement per tree planted, which aims to achieve planting one million trees across Singapore by 2030 and transforming Singapore into a City in Nature. “This tree-planting activity represents more than just a symbolic act of environmental commitment; it embodies our longstanding commitment to Singapore and underscores our ongoing efforts to promote a more sustainable future,” said Eric Tan, managing director of FedEx Express Singapore.

Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian’s latest fleet is the most fuel-efficient aircraft to date, resulting in a 16 percent fuel reduction and carbon emissions. The airline is also reducing its dependence on jet fuel by connecting parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity sources instead of the onboard auxiliary power unit (APU) to operate lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment.

JetBlue Airways: With a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, JetBlue is using new, more fuel-efficient aircraft and engines. JetBlue highlighted their Airbus A220s having up to 35 percent more fuel efficiency per seat compared to the planes they are replacing, Embraer E190.  In an interview with Sara B., JetBlue’s managing director, head of sustainability and ESG, elaborated on SAF and its potential to actively reduce carbon emissions. “We know that our customers love to travel but also many are concerned about the environmental impact of travel today and that’s why so many of us at JetBlue work behind the scenes everyday to reduce that impact,” said Sara.

Southwest Airlines: Southwest has partnered with Hawaii Seaglider Initiative to fund a research study which seeks to establish an inter-island and intra-island seaglider network powered by 100 percent electric, emission free technology.

In addition to Earth Month, this past February, Southwest launched Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures (SARV) which focuses on expanding access to scalable SAF.

United Airlines: United’s newest Chief Trash Officer Oscar the Grouchsent “junk mail” addressed to “everyone@theworld” and appeared in a series of short clips in efforts to teach more about SAF. “It turns out, SAF could be made in the future from all kinds of waste and other junky stuff, like the used cooking oil that frenches your fries,” said Oscar the Grouch. He even has the ABC’s of SAF. Go to United’s website to see what each letter stands for.

UPS: UPS partnered with Palouse Brand, a family-owned farm which grows, processes, packages and ships legumes and grains directly to consumers. Together, Palouse Brand and UPS’ Ware2Go company, that provides order fulfillment and storage space work together to speed up delivery time and decrease carbon footprint. “Products can now be picked up from our facility in Washington state, transported to a Ware2Go facility, processed and ready to sell in as little as 72 hours,” said CEO of Palouse Brand, Sara Mader.

Associate member of Airlines for America:

Air Canada: In honor of Earth Month, Air Canada emphasized their commitment to their partner the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada (JGIC) by launching a new initiative to spotlight illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and its impacts on global biodiversity. Throughout April, Air Canada worked closely with Dr. Jane Goodall herself and JGIC to raise awareness of endangered animals by showcasing those animals on the airline’s in-flight entertainment welcome screens, social media and more. “Air Canda and the aviation industry as a whole is in a unique position to curb this awful practice [IWT] by having a zero-tolerance policy on carrying endangered species or hunting trophies or any products associated with illegal wildlife activities,” said Jane Goodall, founder of JGIC and UN Messenger of Peace.

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