Heathrow airport has called on the travel industry to commit to further efforts to reduce carbon emissions from aviation after its biggest airline partner committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) became the first airline group to commit to the target, which mirrors one set by the UK government following calls to act on climate change.
International Airlines Group - the parent company of British Airways and Spain's Iberia which was created by the merger of the two carriers in 2010 is also planning to offset emissions from all of its domestic flights starting in 2020, echoing a commitment from Air France.
The group was involved in helping the United Nations set up CORSIA, the first global carbon offsetting scheme designed to cut CO2 emissions from aviation by 2.5 billion tonnes between 2020 and 2035.
Speaking from the UN Climate Summit in New York, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye welcomed IAG’s commitment and announced the airport would join the World Economic Forum’s new ‘Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition’ aimed at helping the aviation sector to achieve carbon-neutral flights.
Holland-Kaye also backed the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to include aviation in the UK’s net-zero by 2050 goal.
He commented: “Heathrow is committed to achieving net-zero emissions in aviation and is working to decarbonise airport operations as quickly as possible. IAG’s announcement of net zero emissions from flight by 2050 shows that the aviation sector as a whole can decarbonise and protect the benefits of global travel and trade. We will work with them to achieve this and call on other airlines to follow their lead.”
In addition, the airport announced it will trial turning non-recyclable plastic passenger waste such as food packaging and plastic film into furniture, uniforms and lower-emission jet fuel by 2025.
Heathrow’s commitment comes despite criticism from environmental groups and opponents over the airport’s plan to open a third runway by 2026. The busy hub is on track to top 81 million passengers this year for the first time, and traffic will only continue to grow with the extra capacity created by a new runway, with Virgin Atlantic alone hoping to launch 84 new routes to create more competition with International Airlines Group - the parent company of British Airways and Spain's Iberia which was created by the merger of the two carriers in 2010.
At this week’s ABTA Travel Convention in Tokyo, industry colleagues were warned more action is needed to combat global warming and limit the world’s temperature from increasing above 1.5 degrees Celsius. Responsible Travel’s Tim Williamson went so far as to encourage delegates to tell customers to fly less.
Meanwhile, environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion staged protests at London City airport earlier this week, with one demonstrator climbing on top of an aircraft, preventing a British Airways flight from taking off.