SAS steps toward a more sustainable future
New fuel-efficient aircraft
The main way that SAS is currently improving fuel efficiency is through modernizing its fleet. The Airbus A320neo is the most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft available on the market today, and SAS has ordered 80 of them, 25 of which have already been put into service.
This year, SAS and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), whereby SAS will, for example, provide Airbus with competence and knowledge support in the development of the next generation of aircraft partially or fully using electricity for propulsion.
This initiative will hopefully result in a new type of aircraft that will radically cut the carbon emissions generated by air travel.
“The major effort to reduce our emissions short term is by changing to more fuel-efficient aircraft,” says Lars Andersen Resare, Head of Environment & CSR at SAS. “In parallel, we’re looking to significantly increase the use of biofuel.”
Carbon offsetting initiatives
In 2007, SAS began giving its travelers the opportunity to voluntarily offset their CO2 emissions through an SAS offsetting program. Then in April 2018, SAS started to include carbon offsetting as a free, integrated part of all SAS Youth tickets.
In February 2019, SAS also began automatically offsetting CO2 emissions generated by all Euro-Bonus members on all SAS-operated flights.
“Our main priority is to reduce our emissions by changing to more efficient aircraft, using more efficient procedures and transitioning to biofuels,” says Andersen Resare. “But until climate-neutral flying is technically possible, we carbon offset.”
Increasing use of biofuel
SAS considers biofuel, or Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), to be a key mid to long-term solution to reduce CO2 emissions. Biofuel can reduce climate-impacting CO2 emissions by up to 80% throughout their life-cycle compared with fossil fuel.
But one of the main issues when using biofuel is that historically, supply has been low. To address this, SAS has announced that it will cooperate with energy -suppliers such as Preem to accelerate commercial biofuel production.
SAS aims to be using 20% biofuel in its fuel mix by 2030 and to operate with biofuel equivalent to the total consumption of fuel used to operate all domestic SAS flights. This is a key element in SAS’ target to reduce total carbon emissions by 25% before 2030. The increase in biofuel supply has also helped enable SAS to launch its new biofuel upgrade product that allows travelers to voluntarily purchase biofuel in blocks corresponding to 20 minutes of flight time.
Since 2005, SAS has reduced CO2 emissions by 22% per passenger km.
“We already use biofuel on a small scale and want to give our travelers the option to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gases further by buying biofuel,” says Andersen Resare. “The new product will act as a bridge toward larger-scale use of more sustainable fuel in the coming years when large-scale commercial production of biofuel in Scandinavia is started.”
More initiatives to improve fuel efficiency
Today, SAS pilots use green flights and green approaches when possible. This involves a number of conventional means such as flying at optimal cruising speeds and altitudes to reduce fuel consumption and thereby carbon emissions. Modern technology, which provides pilots with more data than previously, allows the more precise calculations that are needed for such flights.
In 2019, SAS also announced that modern technology and big data in the form of a new IT system support tool will help the airline significantly reduce the amount of deicing fluid it uses.
“This is one more step toward more sustainable travel and any reduction in the use of chemicals in our operations is important,“ says Andersen Resare.
Sustainable products and services
Throughout 2019, many changes have been made to SAS’ onboard products and services to make them more sustainable. These include removing tax-free sales and increasing the availability of preorder meals to reduce waste and weight. SAS has also been focusing on replacing materials used onboard with more sustainable solutions.
“We aim to be using 100% sustainable materials by 2030,” says Andersen Resare. “We’re moving toward realizing this target and improving the way food and packaging is produced, for example by reducing the amount of plastic we use and how it has been transported before it comes on board. We’re also increasing our use of seasonal ingredients and reducing animal-based proteins in our menus as well as sourcing more ingredients locally.”
The 2019 relaunch of The Cube, SAS’ New Nordic dining concept, with even more sustainable packaging and contents than before, including far less plastic, is a central part of this work.
“For SAS, sustainable development means constant improvement,” says Andersen Resare. “That’s why we will continue working as hard as possible to achieve our sustainability goals and honor our sustainability obligations.”
Published: December 11, 2019