Business customers want greener

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Environmental responsibility and compliance have always been expected by regulators and company stakeholders. These days, business customers insist on it, too.

 IATA. ICAO. ACERT. GRI. CDP. EUETS. ICARUS.

To the typical consumer of airline services, this cornucopia of acronyms of organizations and environmental agreements has little meaning. Observing from the sidelines, they have put their faith in others and largely stayed aloof from the process.

But that has been changing. Business consumers are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to environmental responsibility and the airlines they choose to use.

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“Finnair’s environmental responsibility program is comprehensive, thoroughly documented and well communicated,” explains Outi Merilä, a member of the team that manages environmental matters for Finnair.  

“We’ve seen the usual interest in our program from traditional audiences; media, NGOs, industry partners and our corporate stakeholders. However, increasingly we see our business-to-business customers enquire directly about what we do in environmental responsibility.”

According to Merilä, Finnair’s business customers have their own environmental targets that must also be met and expect their vendors to join this endeavor.

“For example, when we receive a request for tender from a government organization, NGO or commercial enterprise, many times they will attach formal documentation asking us about our program.”

“We welcome that,” says Merilä. 

“It gives us the opportunity to share our environmental targets, such as reducing our carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, passenger waste by 10 percent, and anti-icing fluid by 40 percent in 2016, and lowering aircraft noise by 40 percent by the end of 2017. We also explain what concrete actions we have taken to meet these targets, like the acquisition of the Airbus 350 XWB and retrofitting our existing narrow-body fleet to reduce fuel consumption.”

Cargo and private customers onboard

Corporate customers for cargo services have similar concerns with many now requesting emissions information to report their own Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions derived from transport by external service providers). 

And as forwarding companies usually handle the traffic flows of corporate customers, the emissions reports are also distributed through them. 

“In addition to reporting it is of course important to invest in actions that reduce emissions of the transport chain,” says Milla Nyholm, Finnair Cargo’s manager, marketing and sustainability. “For us at Finnair Cargo, the most exciting novelty besides the increasing number of A350 aircraft joining our fleet is the 7,000 square meters of solar panels that will be installed on the roof of our new COOL Nordic Cargo hub terminal, which opens at Helsinki Airport in about six months.”

While businesses, governments and private organizations are demanding higher environmental performance from airlines, private passengers have up to now been less vocal. That is expected to change as well.

“We see the next evolution of environmental awareness to be from the private passenger side. To date, we have not seen a high correlation between environmental performance and the selection of which airline a passenger chooses,” says Merilä.

“However, we do see higher interest from passengers who want to reduce their own carbon footprint. It is here we emphasize things like the average age of our fleet, which is one of the lowest in the entire industry, and our more direct routes to many destinations.”

Merilä concludes, “Where the decision is close among airlines, these can be deciding factors for the more environmentally aware passenger.”

Text by Michael Larkin
Photo by iStock

 

Published November 26, 2016

Category: Environment

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