Air NZ sets bar high with new sustainability projects

Air New Zealand has launched a swathe of sustainability projects and goals as part of a new framework it says is aimed at being both economic and environmental. Chief executive Christopher Luxon unveiled the company's plans at a breakfast event in Auckland yesterday attended by several hundred business leaders and managers.

"The reality is people want jet travel," Luxon said. "There's no doubt about global aviation being very good for the world, it has huge economic and social benefits - but there's no hiding from it, it has an environmental negative and that's because the industry globally contributes about 2 to 4 per cent to global or greenhouse gas emissions which is significant.

"The challenge is a very real one and what we've signed up for are some pretty stretching targets."

Luxon said the company's goal was to supercharge New Zealand's success socially, environmentally and economically.

The success of the company was linked to that of the country, he said.

Christopher Luxton

"Air New Zealand needs a strong and prosperous New Zealand and in turn, New Zealand needs a successful and thriving national airline."

The sustainability report is a result of research from the company's staff and customers focused on what they wanted to see from the airline.

Under the new plan, Air New Zealand will implement a supplier code of conduct to ensure its suppliers are committed to similar social and environmental goals, as well as using ethically sourced materials.

The carrier is also aiming to improve fuel efficiencies by 1.5 per cent between 2009 and 2020 as well as transitioning its road vehicle fleet to be 100 per cent electric, starting in the next few months.

"We want carbon neutral growth which is a really big challenge for us to deal with as a business," Luxon said.

"And then from 2050 we're talking about a reduction of 50 per cent in net emissions which is a big target.

"It's big because in the next five years this company will grow in excess of 30 per cent and our emissions we expect will grow by about 19 per cent."

Air New Zealand announced the extension of its partnerships with both the Department of Conservation, resulting in a further investment of $1 million annually, and with Antarctica New Zealand and the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute.

"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," said Luxon.

The company's focus on sustainability and the environment was discussed with a panel including Luxon, Sir Jonathon Porritt, co-founder and director of Forum for the Future in the UK, and Dame Anne Salmond, New Zealand anthropologist, writer and distinguished professor of Maori Studies at the University of Auckland.

The goals

• Supplier code of conduct to ensure a commitment to similar social and environmental goals, as well as using ethically sourced materials.

• Improve fuel efficiencies by 1.5 per cent between 2009 and 2020.

• Transitioning the road vehicle fleet to be 100% electric.

• Long term goal for the company to be carbon neutral.

- NZ Herald

Current as of 01/10/15 12:19PM NZST

Holly Ryan

Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald