How Finnair is putting sustainability at its core
Finnair recently announced a new strategy to put sustainability at the heart of everything we do. That means reducing net emissions by 50 per cent by the end of 2025 from the 2019 baseline, with the aim of becoming carbon neutral no later than 2045.
That challenging goal requires a multi–pronged approach. We’re making investments in new aircraft, increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels and collaborating with customers and stakeholders. This will bring improved sustainability to every aspect of our operations on the ground, in the air, and in our relationships with suppliers.
A major investment in our fleet
Between 2020 and 2025, Finnair will invest between €3.5 and €4 billion in growing, renewing and replacing our fleet. As new aircraft are more fuel efficient than older models, this will help us to cut between 10 and 15 percent of emissions from European flights.
And it’s not just new planes that will make a difference. Emissions reduction can also be achieved by optimizing an aircraft’s weight and through diligent maintenance. Looking caringly after older aircraft has a huge part to play in hitting our initial target of halving net emissions by 2025.
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) play a huge part in bridging the gap before newer technologies, such as electric aviation, become available. Finnair expects to spend €10 million on SAF annually by the end of 2025 and has teamed up with Neste, the world’s largest supplier of SAF, to make a commitment which will stimulate fuel supply. The biofuels we will use are based on used cooking oil and animal fat and do not use controversial palm oil.
“Currently, sustainable aviation fuel offers the only viable alternative to fossil liquid fuels for powering commercial aircraft. Neste’s sustainable aviation fuel is fully compatible with the existing jet engine technology and fuel distribution infrastructure when blended with fossil jet fuel,” says Peter Vanacker, Neste’s President and CEO.
“We are excited about increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuel in our operations from our Helsinki hub,” adds Finnair’s CEO, Topi Manner. “Sustainable aviation fuels are a key part of the vast toolbox we are using to achieve our long-term plan for carbon neutrality.”
What’s more, customers will be able to book flights on SAF ticket types later this year, with Finnair matching all biofuel contributions our customers make.
While offsetting via planting and trading schemes can’t be the primary way to achieve carbon neutrality, they do help us on our way to reaching net zero by 2045. That means that from September 1 2020, Finnair will offset all of the emissions of our corporate contract customers. This will include all flights that include a Finnair client code in the booking.
Later this year, we will launch a new ticket fare class that will include offsetting as standard. All Finnair’s offsetting is done by trusted partners and in carefully selected and certified projects, meaning customers can trust that the money they spend goes to schemes that guarantee carbon capture.
Finnair is also part of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, spending €18.78 million on emissions trading in 2019.
Weight and fuel efficiency
Making our flights more efficient, by reducing the weight of aircraft and using fuel in more sustainable ways is another way we’re working on reducing emissions. And with plans to reduce fuel consumption by 15,000 tonnes annually, the work starts right now.
Simple changes, such as single engine taxiing to and from the runway, optimizing flight plans to ensure aircraft fly with exactly the right amount of fuel and using CDA (continuous descent approach) landings, are all known to reduce fuel consumption.
We also have plans to systematically reduce the weight of aircraft over the coming months and years. Onboard travel retail will cease on Finnair flights within the EU as of April 29, removing 50-100kg from each flight on average. That’s the equivalent of 70,000kg in fuel consumption every year, or 220,000kg of CO2 emissions.
Customers can play their part too, by packing light and only bringing hand luggage for short trips. A little less weight brought by each customer can have a major impact overall.
Cutting back on plastic and waste
Having already removed 80,000kg of plastic in 2019, through increased recycling and smarter material choices, we’ll be taking our weight reduction scheme to the next level in 2020. Plastic cutlery will be removed from the economy cabin and replaced by a more sustainable alternative, removing 53 tonnes of plastic from our flights each year.
By 2022, we will have removed 230 tonnes of plastic from Finnair flights, halving the amount of use-single use plastics in the process.
Food waste in Helsinki will be lowered by 50 per cent by the end of 2022, partially by increasing the number of customers who pre–order their meals. And considering the relatively higher CO2 emissions of meat production, Finnair will offer more vegetarian meal options in flight and in lounges.
We’re committed to improving sustainability, and while we’re just getting started on our new strategy, you’ll be seeing lots of progress from Finnair throughout 2020 and beyond.