Air France increases its commitment to the environment

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Air France increases its commitment to the environment
Source: Air France
May 25, 2022

The airline cuts CO2 emissions in half on two of its flights with a series of actions to limit its environmental footprint


In April, Air France launched "Air France ACT", a program presenting its new decarbonisation path with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions per passenger-km by 30% by 2030 compared to 2019, i.e. , 12% less total emissions. To illustrate the ways in which this goal can be achieved, the company is today simultaneously implementing a series of actions on two of its flights departing from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

This project is part of the "Skyteam Sustainable Flight Challenge", an initiative that aims to stimulate and encourage innovation, inviting the member airlines of the alliance to operate the most eco-responsible flights possible from May 1 to 14, 2022.

In this way, Air France aims to: measure and illustrate the effectiveness of methods already implemented and tested, such as new generation aircraft, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), eco-piloting and the use of electric ramps and cargo transport equipment. Explore new avenues that could be exploited in the future, such as the extensive use of artificial intelligence to optimize flight routes, or the use of autonomous tractors to transport luggage, as well as offering customers more sustainable, local catering and seasonal, limiting food waste, by allowing them to choose the menu on board before flying and limiting single-use plastic.

The operation was carried out on two commercial flights, one to Montreal operated by an Airbus A350 on May 3, 2022, and the other to Lisbon on May 4, 2022, operated by an Airbus A220. These latest generation aircraft, which are at the heart of Air France's fleet renewal strategy, consume 20 to 25% less fuel than previous generation aircraft. Its footprint is reduced by a third. In 2030, these aircraft will account for 70% of the Air France fleet, compared to 7% today, thanks to an investment of one billion euros per year by 2025.

The flight to Montreal was fueled with 16% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the flight to Lisbon with 30% SAF, compared to the 1% currently used on flights departing from France under regulations current. These non-fossil fuels are produced from biomass, such as used cooking oil. Therefore, they do not compete with the food chain and allow an average reduction of 80% of CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuel throughout its life cycle. To take the example of used vegetable oils, this means taking into account CO2 capture during plant growth, its first life as cooking oil, its recycling, and its use as aviation fuel.

On the ground and on board, the pilots implemented eco-pilot techniques, such as single-engine taxiing on the ground and real-time trajectory optimization, in coordination with air traffic control.

50% less CO2 emissions
The use of these methods allowed a reduction of close to 45% of CO 2 emissions in each of the two flights(1). This operation and its important result were possible thanks to the commitment of personnel from all sectors of Air France, pilots, flight crews, ground personnel, cargo and maintenance personnel, commercial services and operational support. Several other companies and partners have also contributed to this achievement, such as Airbus, TotalEnergies, Groupe ADP, Servair, Charlatte, Navya, and Montreal and Lisbon airports. This joint action is in line with Air France's conviction that the decarbonisation of the aviation sector will be the result of joint collaboration with manufacturers, airlines, airport authorities, public authorities and national and international organisations.

Vincent Etchebehere, Vice President of Sustainability and New Mobilities at Air France, said: "Following the announcement of our new science-based CO2 emissions reduction targets, it was important for us to illustrate in concrete terms how our sector must transform to respond to the emergency On two flights, to Montreal and Lisbon, we have engaged our partners and customers in a process aimed at testing the performance of existing procedures and finding new solutions to take our efforts to reduce our emissions one step further. it is demanding and complex, but it is not an option Air France is determined to explore all avenues of innovation used by the other airlines of the SkyTeam alliance,who share his ambition to make air transport compatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

Figures will be analyzed, such as the level of reduction of CO 2 emissions for each of the levers activated, as well as the feedback from customers present on both flights. This information will be used to consider the most appropriate ways to limit the carbon footprint of Air France's scheduled operations in the future. These findings will be shared with the other SkyTeam alliance airlines that participated in the Skyteam Sustainable Flight Challenge. Air France's entire environmental strategy can be consulted on the dedicated website: airfranceact.airfrance.com

Actions implemented at each stage of the trip: 
Before the flight, a message is sent to customers asking them to limit the volume and weight of their luggage. To limit food waste, they are encouraged to pre-select their meals so that only the necessary items are loaded on board. In the salons, more sustainable, local and seasonal products are offered and eco-responsible materials are used; all-electric ground operations, with electric pushback of the aircraft, transportation of crews by electric bus between their base and the aircraft stand, and electric transportation of cargo.

On board:
Use of new generation aircraft (Airbus A350, Airbus A220) that emit up to 25% less CO2; use of 16% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (produced by TotalEnergies) on the flight to Montreal and 30% on the flight to Lisbon, allowing in the case of these two flights a 90% reduction in CO 2 emissions in the entire life cycle, higher than the industry average of 80%;

Use of eco-pilot techniques (single-engine taxiing, use of on-board innovations for tactical trajectory optimization, climb and descent optimization), which allow a 3-4% reduction in fuel consumption on each flight.

Use of more sustainable catering equipment (lighter new generation food cart, recycled and recyclable trays, cellulose tableware, FSC wooden cutlery and stirrers, paper cups, elimination of individual plastic bottles). Limit waste by choosing a hot meal before the flight in all cabins and distributing comfort kits (produced with recycled materials and containing organic cosmetics) on request in Business and Premium Economy; Selective sorting on board: sorting of plastic bottles, juice boxes and cans. Introduction of a more sustainable catering service, entirely prepared in France.

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