Sustainability is going to play an even bigger role in the post-Covid-19 world. While commercial aviation still only represents around 2 per cent of global human-made CO2 emissions, the airlines, and infrastructure that support them are those that will lead the future of flying.

Even through 2020, despite the challenges of Covid-19, Etihad Airways continued to pave the way for more environmentally friendly travel by implementing key sustainability initiatives. The airline remains at the forefront to pioneer new and effective ways of mitigating aviation’s environmental impact to reduce carbon emissions and create cleaner and more sustainable transportation for future generations.

Here are some initiatives by the airline on this front:

Zero net carbon emissions by 2050

In January last year, Etihad announced an ambitious target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050, with an additional goal of halving 2019 net emission levels by 2035. This will be achieved through a combination of internal initiatives and collaboration with industry partners to harness technology and innovation for operational efficiencies

Supporting the ecoDemonstrator programme

Under its Greenliner programme, Etihad partnered with industry leaders Boeing, NASA, and Safran on the 2020 ecoDemonstrator programme. This saw an Etihad Boeing 787 aircraft test initiatives to enhance safety and reduce CO2 emissions and noise, including two innovative wellness technologies to combat Covid-19 – a handheld ultraviolet light disinfecting system and an antimicrobial coating to prevent the growth of bacteria on tray tables, armrests, and other surfaces.

Developing sustainable biofuel

Exploring the use of sustainable aviation fuel has been at the core of Etihad’s business for the last decade with the airline being a key partner of Abu Dhabi’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, along with Boeing, and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. In fact, Etihad’s first flight using plant-based fuel was back in 2012, while in 2020 Etihad used 50,000 gallons of a 50/50 blend of sustainable aviation fuel on the final flight of the ecoDemonstrator 787-10 flight tests between Washington DC and Abu Dhabi.

Etihad’s carbon offset programme

In December 2020, Etihad announced the launch of the Middle East’s first aircraft carbon offset programme by committing to purchase carbon offsets to completely neutralise CO2 emissions of its flagship Greenliner aircraft for a full year of operations in 2021. The carbon credits are linked to the Tanzanian forestry project Makame Savannah.