Air New Zealand launches Sustainability Framework

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Air New Zealand has this week launched a new Sustainability Framework as part of its commitment to helping supercharge the nation’s success.

Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon unveiled the framework along with several sustainability initiatives at an event for business leaders in Auckland this morning (NZ time).

“We see the success of our business as being inextricably linked to the success of our country – Air New Zealand needs a strong and prosperous New Zealand and in turn, New Zealand needs a successful and thriving national airline,” says Mr Luxon.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon at the airline’s Sustainability Framework Breakfast in Auckland

“Given the significance of this business to New Zealand we have signed ourselves up to a mission and purpose bigger than ourselves – that is to supercharge New Zealand’s success – socially, environmentally and economically.”

The airline’s new Sustainability Framework sets out how it will contribute to supercharging New Zealand’s success.  The economic, social, and environmental pillars of the framework are supported by six key focus areas – the airline’s people; the communities it operates within; carbon, nature and science; tourism and trade and enterprise.

The airline has recognised that to be successful in its sustainability journey the airline requires advice from global experts.  It has formed a Sustainability Advisory Panel made up of New Zealand and international experts with specialist knowledge.  They are:

  • Sir Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder and Director, Forum for the Future (United Kingdom)
  • Dame Anne Salmond, New Zealand anthropologist, writer and distinguished professor of Maori Studies, University of Auckland (New Zealand)
  • Rob Fenwick CNZM, entrepreneur, director and conservationist (New Zealand)
  • Derek Handley, social entrepreneur, Founder of Aera Foundation (New Zealand)
  • Suzanne Hunt, Founder and President, HuntGreen LLC and biofuels expert (United States)
  • Brian Pearce, Chief Economist, International Air Transport Association (Switzerland)

Mr Luxon and Air New Zealand’s Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer, Captain David Morgan, who has responsibility for sustainability at the airline, also sit on the panel.

Sir Jonathon Porritt at Air New Zealand’s Sustainability Framework Breakfast

Sir Jonathon Porritt emphasised how important it is to see a large New Zealand company take sustainability seriously, both for the company itself and for the New Zealand economy as a whole.

“We’ve been able to convene a group of people with enormous expertise in different areas of the sustainability agenda.  What excites us is the opportunity to support Air New Zealand in its goal of becoming one of the world’s most sustainable airlines.”

According to Mr Luxon the actions to be delivered under the sustainability framework have been driven in part by insights gleaned from its staff and customers.

“Earlier this year we conducted a significant piece of research, asking how people thought Air New Zealand should ‘supercharge New Zealand’s success’.  Key themes to emerge from the research were around enabling knowledge and inspiration as well as helping young Kiwis and emerging businesses to succeed.  In the coming year we’ll be launching several significant initiatives that support these themes.”

Sustainability Framework

In the meantime, Air New Zealand this week announced several new steps as part of its sustainability commitment.  These include:

  • A new Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure the airline’s suppliers support their commitment to advance social, environmental and ethical sourcing, by meeting minimum standards and commit to continuous improvement.
  • Signing on as a participant of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative which sees organisations from around the world commit to a series of universal sustainability principles.
  • The establishment of an annual speakers series to bring international thought leaders on social development, business growth and environmental issues to New Zealand to share knowledge in main centres and the regions.
  • Transitioning Air New Zealand’s fleet of road vehicles and ground equipment to 100% electric where feasible, with a tender due out to market next month.
  • An extension of the airline’s partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC).  The airline has partnered with DOC since 2012 to support biodiversity projects and conservation initiatives around New Zealand.  The partnership is worth the equivalent of $1 million annually to DOC and today’s announcement will see the airline continue to support biodiversity projects on some of the Great Walks in partnership with both DOC and local iwi, transfer endangered species around the country on its network and promote the Great Walks and various conservation initiatives through until 2020.
  • An extension of the airline’s sponsorship agreement with Antarctica New Zealand and the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute.  The airline has supported important climate science research being conducted in Antarctica since 2012.  This new commitment will enable scientists to carry out a new climate change research project over the coming three years which will study a range of Antarctic species living in the coastal zone between Scott Base and Cape Adare and investigate how these species can be used as biological indicators, or early warning systems, for future change in global temperatures, sea-ice and ocean circulation conditions.
  • The recycling of Air New Zealand crew uniforms which sees unbranded jackets sent to charitable organisations and other garments recycled and converted into various products such as carpet underlay, furniture, blankets and bedding felt.  This programme is expected to save around 6.4 tonnes of material going to landfill each year.

This new initiative from Air New Zealand again puts the airline out in front but the main question for many is will it put fares up to support it?

We asked Air New Zealand and they replied:

We do not expect to see an impact on fare pricing.  While some initiatives will inevitably require some investment such as purchasing more modern aircraft, there are a number of benefits to be gained such as improved fuel efficiency and a better inflight experience for our customers, or when we reduce waste, we create efficiencies and reduce costs which helps to improve our margins.

Hopefully other airlines will follow in their footsteps and if you haven’t been yet – there are even more reasons to visit New Zealand!


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