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An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300 at Los Angeles International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Air New Zealand Supports National Renewable Energy Mandate

The aviation industry continues its pursuit towards addressing air pollution and minimizing the carbon footprint, in a time when businesses and enterprises are being urged to formulate energy-efficient and sustainable initiatives to address climate change. Major airlines and aircraft manufacturers proposed commitments and projects, which specific agencies within national governments provide research and contributions. The initiatives have ranged from the prevalent carbon emission reductions to the ongoing research for improving fuel economy and reducing aircraft noise. 

Recently, Air New Zealand – a carrier that has committed to vigorous, long-term environmental commitments like any other –  officially launched its support for the national government’s biofuels mandate through a joint-initiative. The Auckland-based carrier plans to pursue biofuels and contribute to New Zealand’s 2050 goal for net zero carbon emissions. 

Greg Foran, Chief Executive Officer, Air New Zealand said, “COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our airline, but it has not slowed our commitment to decarbonizing our business. We see today’s announcement as a major step forward for the wider transport sector, and we’re supportive of a national strategy for decarbonizing the economy, accompanied by appropriate policy settings and investment.” 

The flag carrier of New Zealand serves 20 domestic destinations and 30 international destinations in 19 countries. The airline’s variety of destinations serve as the foundation for its future of sustainable flights within its extensive route network. 

“While we see hydrogen-powered or electric aircraft as viable options for our domestic and short-haul network, being able to access Sustainable Aviation Fuels at a competitive price will be very important for us when it comes to decarbonizing our long haul operations,” Foran added. 

The Airline’s Sustainable Past

Air New Zealand’s joint agreement with the national government is an extension of its ongoing, long-term outlook for sustainability. In November 2020, the prominent member of the Star Alliance airline network released its 2020 sustainability report. 

“It has certainly been a very challenging year for the aviation sector and for Air New Zealand. We have worked hard to ensure the actions we have taken over past months will enable the airline to emerge competitively and sustainably from the COVID-19 crisis,” Foran said, a belief reaffirmed through the airline’s decision to focus on promoting domestic tourism – as international borders were restricted – and reinjecting thousands of sealed, unused catering items onto its aircraft. 

In its current carbon reduction program, the carrier saved 10,557 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Additionally, Air New Zealand experienced a one percent increase from 4.6 percent of voluntary carbon offsetting over last year. 

Certainly, while Air New Zealand’s focus on its ongoing initiatives highlighted significant progress towards contributing to the airline industry’s goal of addressing climate issues and transition to more sustainable operations, there is work to be done. However, with Air New Zealand’s latest joint partnership with the national government, the gap between the airlines and the public sector will be closer, ultimately leading to more awareness and a future that will be closer than once thought to be.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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