Virgin Australia has committed to a target of Net Zero Emissions by 2050, underpinned by practical, innovative initiatives designed to build from the airline’s historical efforts in sustainability.
Speaking at the IATA Sustainable Aviation Fuel Symposium (on November 4), Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka acknowledged the role aviation has to play in reducing global emissions and committed Virgin Australia to a Net Zero by 2050 target.
“We’ve all got an obligation to do the very best job we can at protecting the environment and protecting our futures,” Hrdlicka said.
“I really don’t think we have a choice but to commit to Net Zero emissions by 2050. We’re passionate about this, we absolutely intend to be successful at it.”
The 2050 commitment and pathway will complement Virgin Australia’s existing sustainability measures, including having been the first airline in Australia to explore and test Sustainable Aviation Fuel (in 2013 and 2018).
The airline has previously announced the addition of more fuel efficient MAX 10 aircraft to its fleet (commencing in 2023), has already made substantial progress in reducing on-board waste, and already holds Australian-based environmental partnerships to underpin its carbon offsets.
Hrdlicka was realistic about the challenges associated with reaching Net Zero, saying the airline would be practical and innovative in its approach.
“While SAF is an essential piece of the puzzle, there’s a lot more to it than that,” Hrdlicka said.
“We have to look at every single lever in the mix of emissions and offsets to try to get as close to Net Zero emissions well before 2050, wherever that’s possible.
“Every single day we have single use plastics that are used in parts of our operation – we need to get rid of that entirely,” she said.
“Making sure we’re using recyclable items, making sure all of our ground activity is done with zero emissions, and we’re using sustainable fuels throughout our processes – wherever that’s possible.
“Working with all of our partners to ensure [this] end-to-end. We’re thinking through supply chain opportunities, [and] offsetting our carbon emissions where that’s practical and feasible to do.”
Hrdlicka said customers were becoming increasingly be conscious of their own carbon footprints, wanting to ensure that they’re making good decisions with respect to that carbon footprint.
“I think the next 12 months is going to be still a period of re-norming,” she added.
“And then consumers are going to start to care again about those things that really do speak to things that matter to them at the core.
“It’s our job during that period to start to get the narrative right and to engage with consumers in a way that helps them realize the consequence of their actions and what we’re doing to help them.”