From now on, Easyjet will pay out of its own pocket to offset the carbon emissions of all flights across its entire network at no cost to passengers, according to the airline.

The carrier has become the first to voluntarily operate carbon neutral flights. British Airways and Air France are due to offset domestic operations from 2020, while Lufthansa will offset all European corporate fares.

Easyjet said it will undertake offsetting through schemes accredited by Gold Standard and VCS, which it claimed are two of the highest verification standards for such programmes. These will fund forestry, renewable and community-based projects.

Speaking on the Centre Stage this morning at the GBTA Conference 2019 – Munich in Partnership with VDR, Thomas Haagensen, Easyjet’s group markets director, said carbon offsetting schemes are only a temporary solution to the problem of sustainability in the airline industry.

“The ultimate objective should be to decarbonise flights, but that’s not the reality yet,” Haagensen added. “What’s important is that the industry invests heavily in the development of more sustainable aircraft, such as hybrid and electric planes.”

Easyjet has also signed an agreement with Airbus to conduct joint research on hybrid and electric aircraft, with the ultimate goal being to define the impacts and requirements necessary for the large-scale introduction of sustainable planes.

The carrier has been working with Wright Electric over the last two years on a project designed to produce an all-electric aircraft capable of operating short-haul flights and has also worked with Rolls Royce and Safran on new technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of flying.

The airline is aiming to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting undertaken as new technologies emerge.

In addition, Easyjet is looking at other parts of its operations to limit carbon emissions, such as the use of electric taxiing and renewable energy for its non-flying activities.

Haagensen also pointed out that this is “an industry-wide issue – it’s not just about the airlines”. “We all need to do our part, and that includes airports, air traffic control management and governments coming together to drive innovation.”

Easyjet will campaign for both governments and industry to introduce airspace efficiency improvements and to ensure regulations support further reductions in carbon emissions by encouraging innovation, such as through tax incentives.

CEO Johan Lundgren commented: “Climate change is an issue for all of us. At Easyjet we are tackling this challenge head-on…

“People have a choice in how they travel and people are now thinking about the potential carbon impact of different types of transport. But many people still want to fly and if people choose to fly we want to be one of the best choices they can make.

“Easyjet has a long tradition of efficient flying – the aircraft we fly and the way we fly them means that Easyjet is already more efficient than many airlines. However, our priority is to continue to work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short-term, coupled with long-term work to support the development of new technology, including electric planes which aspire to radically reduce the carbon footprint of aviation.”

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