Delta’s newest A321 aircraft made its initial flight last week, operating carbon-neutral – a first for the airline.

The carrier has partnered with Air BP to supply biofuels for an initial 20 delivery flights from the Airbus assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, which are manufactured via sustainable sources and processes.

The move is part of Delta’s goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 and to achieve carbon-neutral growth. It voluntarily caps its emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing offsets, a measure it takes for all domestic travel into and out of seven major airports with high corporate travel demand.

Alison Lathrop, Delta’s managing director – global environment, sustainability and compliance, hailed the carbon-neutral delivery as a “milestone”, adding: “We are excited to partner with Air BP and Airbus to power these delivery flights with biofeuls and carbon offsets, and will explore opportunities to bring this level of sustainability to all delivery flights going forward.”

Simone Rauer, head of aircraft operations for environmental affairs at Airbus, commented: “Airbus is committed to being part of the solution for meeting aviation’s global CO2 emissions reduction targets. Contributing to a lasting decrease of our industry’s carbon footprint is key to ensuring a sustainable future for aviation.”

Jon Platt, CEO of Air BP, added: “We are proud to help Delta achieve its sustainability goals for the maiden voyages of their new Airbus aircraft. Air BP is supplying sustainable aviation fuel produced by Neste for 20 delivery flights, and through the BP Target Neutral programme we are offsetting the residual carbon emissions of each delivery flight… We hope this project inspires others to follow suit.”

Delta is also in the process of eliminating single-use plastics on board its aircraft and in its airport lounges.

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