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Keywords: Environmental Management
Master (Environmental Management)
Chia Audrey
2010/2011 EnvM
Issue Date: 11-Oct-2011
Citation: TAN XIANG YAN (2011-10-11). GREENING UP THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Aviation has transformed the world we live in, allowing for affordable and rapid travel to almost anywhere on the globe. In recent years, due to growth and rapid globalization, air travel has been made more affordable to an even larger population through the introduction of low cost carriers (LCCs) or budget airlines. This resulted in an increasing demand for air travel. Despite efficiency improvements, this growing demand for air travel continues to lead to rising levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the aviation sector. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), aviation is responsible for 2% of the world’s man-made CO2 emissions and is estimated to have grown to 3% by 2050. Although this may seem like a small amount compared to other transport industries, a growing carbon footprint is unacceptable. Moreover, airlines today are faced with a dramatically changing business landscape because of volatile jet fuel prices. The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) press release on February 28, 2010 announced, “Our current forecast is based on an average annual oil price of US$84 per barrel (Brent). Today the price is over US$100. For each dollar it increases, the industry is challenged to recover $1.6 billion in additional costs.” With this additional pressure, airlines have more reasons to reduce their consumption of traditional jet fuel by investing in more fuel-efficient technologies, nurturing the growth of alternative fuels, and optimizing their business models. This will not only save the industry billions of dollars but will also help airlines achieve a sustainable, lower emissions future. GHG emissions from the airline industry are not entirely attributed to the burning of jet fuel alone. Airline waste that is not recycled contributes to GHG emissions through incineration and landfilling. A study by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) found that the airline industry discarded 9,000 tons of plastic and enough newspapers and magazines to fill a football field to a depth of more than 70 meters in 2004 alone. Noting that most airport and airline recycling systems are largely underdeveloped, the study estimated that airports and airlines have the potential to achieve a recycling rate of 31% by capturing 70% of the discarded aluminium, newspaper, cardboard, magazines, office and other waste paper, plastic, and glass. Huge cost savings can be achieved through recycling programmes and efficient waste management. This paper shall explore the environmental impacts of airlines, what airlines are doing to reduce their ecological footprint and the possibilities for improvement. This paper also examines three case studies based on airlines’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and includes survey findings on whether passengers can be a persuading factor for more airlines to go green.
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