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easyJet to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights

UK-headed low-cost air carrier easyJet plc has announced that it will become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its whole network. The airline will achieve this goal by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights, starting November 19, 2019.

UK-headed low-cost air carrier easyJet plc has announced that it will become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its whole network. The airline will achieve this goal by offsetting the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of its flights, starting November 19, 2019 (photo courtesy easyJet).

easyJet will undertake carbon offsetting through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and VCS.  They will include forestry, renewable and community-based projects.

Carbon offsetting is only an interim measure while new technologies are developed, so the airline will continue to support innovative technology, including the development of hybrid and electric planes, working with others across the industry to reinvent and de-carbonise aviation over the long-term.

The aim will be for easyJet to reduce the amount of carbon offsetting undertaken as new technologies emerge.

Climate change is an issue for all of us. At easyJet we are tackling this challenge head-on by choosing to offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used for all of our flights starting today. In doing so we are committing to operating net-zero carbon flights across our network – a world first by any major airline. We acknowledge that offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying, but we want to take action on carbon now, said Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet.

Agreement with Airbus

As part of this goal, easyJet has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with aircraft manufacturer Airbus related to a joint research project on hybrid and electric aircraft.

The MoU is an important step towards furthering the industry’s understanding of the operational and infrastructure opportunities and challenges of plug-in hybrid and full electric aircraft.

easyJet and Airbus will cooperate on three distinct work packages set to define the impacts and the requirements necessary for the large-scale introduction of next-generation sustainable aircraft on infrastructure and every-day commercial aircraft operations.

easyJet has been supporting Wright Electric over the last two years, which is aiming to produce an all-electric ‘easyJet sized’ plane which could be used for short-haul flights. The airline is also working with Rolls Royce and Safran on new technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of flying.

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. I am therefore delighted that we have also announced today a new electric plane partnership with Airbus. We will be working together to identify the detailed technical challenges and requirements for electric and electric hybrid planes when deployed for short-haul flying around Europe. We hope this will be an important step towards making electric planes a reality. Aviation will have to reinvent itself as quickly as it can. This is the reason why we have been supporting Wright Electric since 2017 and are working with Airbus, and Safran on new technologies, said John Lundgren.

easyJet will also aim to stimulate innovation in carbon reduction by supporting the development of technologies that will enable hybrid electric and electric planes and championing advanced carbon capture technologies as well as sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) as they become available and commercially viable.

Call for regulatory support

With electric technology still in development, the company says that it will continue to work on additional short and medium-term actions to drive a reduction in carbon emissions.

This could include the introduction of technologies such as e-taxiing and electric APUs and the reduction of carbon emissions from easyJet’s non-flying activities through, for example, the use of renewable energy.

However, Lundgren says that governments and the industry need to focus in this area, most notably on airspace efficiency improvements and ensuring that the regulatory regime supports further reductions in emissions by incentivising more efficient flying and supporting innovation – for example through tax incentives.

We also need governments to support efforts to decarbonise aviation. In particular, they must reform aviation taxes to incentivise efficient behaviour, fund research, and development in new technology and ensure that early movers such as easyJet are not penalised. 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, ended Johan Lundgren.

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