Air France, Etihad and Lufthansa ads banned over misleading environmental claims

7 Dec 2023 by Mark Caswell

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that Air France, Etihad and Lufthansa must stop showing “misleading” adverts promoting the airlines’ environmental impact.

In three separate rulings the ASA said that the adverts in question “must not appear again in the form complained about”.

In the case of Air France the ASA challenged an ad which stated “Manchester to Bangkok […] Air France flights […] Air France is committed to protecting the environment: travel better and sustainably”.

The Authority said that the ad “would be understood by consumers to mean that Air France offered a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to travel by air”, and that it “therefore expected to see a high level of evidence which demonstrated how Air France were protecting the environment and making aviation sustainable”.

In the absence of this evidence the ASA “concluded that the claims gave consumers a misleading impression of the impact that travelling with Air France would have on the environment”.

Lufthansa 787-9 Take-Off

Similarly Lufthansa was pulled up for an advert which stated “Fly now with Lufthansa […] Book your ticket directly with Lufthansa and explore destinations around the world […] Fly more sustainably”.

Lufthansa responded to the ASA’s enquiries, stating that “the callout ‘Fly more sustainably’ was a reference to its ‘Green Fares’ option, which passengers could select on European flights”. The airline also said that “the technical limits of Google Callouts meant that only very limited information could be provided in such an ad”.

But the ASA said that “Unqualified claims could mislead if they omitted significant information”, and concluded that the ad breached the Code.

An Etihad Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off from Abu Dhabi International Airport

Finally Etihad was challenged over an ad which stated “Etihad Airways – Book Your Flight Today […] Enjoy Great Discounts, Offers and Deals On Your Flight Bookings. Explore the World With Confidence and Total Peace Of Mind With Etihad Airways. Environmental Advocacy. Award-Winning Service”.

Etihad said that upon receiving the complaint it “immediately removed all references to ‘Environmental advocacy’ from their paid-for Google search ads being delivered in the UK”.

The ASA welcome this move, but again concluded that the advert breached the Code, stating that it “had not seen any evidence that they were engaged in such advocacy, or that they actively worked to protect the environment in a way that meant consumers could use their services with ‘Total Peace Of Mind’ with regard to the environmental impact of doing so”.

Airlines are increasingly promoting environmental credentials as the industry scrambles to reduce emissions through initiatives including sustainable aircraft fuels (SAF) and electric aircraft.

Last month Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to operate a transatlantic flight powered by 100 per cent SAF.

Virgin Atlantic operates 100 per cent SAF transatlantic flight

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