Qatar Airways Group is reinforcing its commitment to protect the planet by highlighting its key environmental sustainability initiatives. The carrier is the first airline in the Middle East to secure accreditation at the highest level of the IATA Environmental Assessment Programme (IEnvA).
Meanwhile its hub, Hamad International Airport, will be the first airport in the region to achieve a four-star Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) rating as part of plans to expand its capacity to more than 53 million passengers annually by 2022. The terminal will also be a LEED Silver-certified building, featuring a number of innovative energy efficiency measures.
In addition, Qatar Airways has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, becoming part of the first global alliance to unite behind a common target to achieve carbon neutrality. Its advanced aircraft technology and fuel-optimisation initiatives are part of a comprehensive strategy to address its CO2 emissions, and it continues to remain compliant with the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Commenting on the various initiatives, Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “It is our ambition as an airline to minimise our impact on the environment and facilitate continued global travel and commerce while limiting carbon emissions. As we work in collaboration with the aviation industry to reconnect the world, we recognise sustainability as a strategy to build resilience post Covid-19. We must act boldly and decisively to make necessary changes, acknowledging that it is innovation which will drive the industry forward for a sustainable future.”
Implementing the Doha Declaration
At the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical & Regulatory Summit held in February last year, the Doha Declaration highlighted the growing need for sustainable operations, engaging stakeholders to act collectively to address climate change and promote sustainability in the aviation industry.
The declaration states that it is essential for the travel and tourism industry to engage collectively to reduce emissions and secure environmental sustainability for future generations. In line with this, Qatar Airways has a range of ongoing and recent initiatives that promote sustainability.
Modern, fuel-efficient fleet of aircraft: Qatar Airways operates one of the youngest fleets in the sky. The airline’s mix of modern fuel-efficient aircraft helped it to develop a sustainable and adapted solution, allowing it to continue flying routes with less overall demand as it has a variety of aircraft it can select from, to offer the right capacity in each market. Due to Covid-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline has taken the decision to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s as it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market. Qatar Airways’ fleet of 53 Airbus A350 and 37 Boeing 787 are the ideal mix for the most strategically important long-haul routes to Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.
Aircraft Fuel & CO2 Emission Reduction Initiatives: Qatar Airways continually strives to improve fuel efficiency through its fuel optimisation program. From managing the weight of fittings and other items on our aircraft, to optimising flight paths to ensure the minimum distance is travelled wherever possible. Other initiatives also include reduction of potable water uplift, removal of inflight duty free offerings and footrests, as well as digitization of inflight magazines and menu, all resulting to the reduction weight on board the aircraft.
Voluntary Carbon Offset Programme for Passengers: Passengers now have the opportunity to voluntarily offset the carbon emissions associated with their journey at the point of booking. Qatar Airways is a proud member of the IATA carbon offset programme, contributing to the Fatanpur Wind Farm project, which invests in developing India’s renewable energy capacity. The project currently supports 54 turbines across two districts in Madhya Pradesh: Dewas and Ujjain. With a combined power rating of over 108 Mega Watts, these turbines displace over 210,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from the Indian Electricity Grid each year. To put this into perspective, one tonne of CO2 is the average emission of one passenger on a return-flight from Paris to New York. It is also the amount of CO2 produced by driving 6,000 km with a diesel car.
Reducing waste and applying the principles of a circular economy across our businesses: In 2019, Qatar Airways launched its Quisine on-board dining experience, with an increased focus on reducing single-use plastics. This includes removing the plastic that was used to wrap cutlery and replacing plastic spoons that compliment all hot beverages with wooden stirrers. With the introduction of Quisine, there has been an 80 per cent increase in recyclable and biodegradable products being used, and 80 per cent of the tray items comply with the ban on single-use plastics.
Food waste reduction: Qatar Aircraft Catering Company has been working on recovery of unconsumed whole and safe food items for charity. The airline actively reduces food waste by donating up to 300kg of surplus food daily from its on-board dining facilities. It is also proactively looking for opportunities to optimise food that is carried on each aircraft to minimise waste and reduce emissions from additional weight carried on the aircraft.
Water conservation and optimisation: Qatar Airways was the first airline in the world to use General Electric’s (GE) ‘360 Foam Wash’ technology on its aircraft, replacing traditional water wash methods on GE engines. In addition, recycled wastewater is used in irrigation for Hamad International Airport’s landscaping features and condensate water from the building air conditioners is used in commercial offices for cleaning activities, replacing potable water use.
Supporting wildlife: As an inaugural signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016 and a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, Qatar Airways has a zero tolerance policy towards the transportation of illegal wildlife and their products. Qatar Airways Cargo in 2020 launched a new chapter of its sustainability programme WeQare: Rewild the Planet, focused on transporting endangered animals back to their natural habitat, free of charge. In May 2021, Qatar Airways Cargo has helped rehome seven rescued lions from Ukraine to South Africa. The cargo carrier’s initiative to preserve wildlife is consistent with the airline’s commitment to fight wildlife trafficking and illegal trade of wild animals.
In March, the Doha-based airline announced a summer schedule that will see it operate more than 1,200 weekly frequencies across 23 destinations in Africa, 14 in the Americas, 43 in both Asia-Pacific and Europe, plus 19 in the Middle East. Many cities will be able to avail themselves of a schedule offering daily, or even more frequent, services.