The increasing importance of higher environmental standards and behavior has led to a greater expectation for benchmarking and reporting environmental performance. IATA, in its mission to serve the aviation industry, has developed a specific solution designed to support airlines comply with these expectations.
The IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Program is a voluntary evaluation system designed to independently assess and improve the environmental management of an airline. It aims to develop a common environmental standard among airlines to achieve the best environmental management practices. Some airlines have already started partnering with IATA, including Finnair.
Tuomo Karppinen, environment expert at Finnair tells us more about the program and the benefit for his airline.
Dear Tuomo, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! To start off, tell us a bit more about Finnair and the its environmental developments in the last few years.
Finnair is a network airline specialized in passenger and cargo traffic between Asia and Europe. Package tours are also offered through Finnair’s Holidays brands. The cornerstone of Finnair’s sustainable and profitable growth strategy is its geographical competitive advantage, key to address the growing market of air traffic between Asia and Europe. In November 2019, Finnair introduced its new strategy where sustainability is a priority for all our functional areas.
Thanks to an existing environmental management system including a database that includes various environmental aspects, we were able to better address Finnair’s ambitious emission reduction objective. For example, comparing CO2 emissions levels from 2005 vs 2019, we have achieved a 27% reduction, representing a 2.3% annual decrease. The company’s target however is to reach carbon neutrality as soon as possible.
How does IEnvA help you deal with environment issues?
IEnvA provides a steady pace for continuous target management practices. After objectives have been set at the top management level, it’s easy to develop the operational control measures across the different divisions and departments. Emissions are a result of many contributing factors across the entire organization and therefore require many vital changes to achieve reductions. This entails a systematic management approach which an IEnvA-based management system provides.
On a more technical level, what challenges does Finnair face when incorporating sustainability management to its IEnvA Environmental Management System? And how did you cope with the requirements?
IEnvA’s key advantage for Finnair is that it helps to manage any given target within the sustainability scope. The main challenge is the growing number of stakeholders, finding a common and simple language between different subject experts, as well as the risk-based analytical approach to any given significant activity. This highlights the importance of top-management commitment and understanding the big picture when it comes to sustainability.
At Finnair, we have just started to design our sustainability governance keeping in mind that we will consider all the advantages IEnvA system incorporation has brought us. We hope we can share these learnings with all the other IEnvA Operators.
Lastly, what benefits do you see and what recommendations do you have for other airlines who have not joined the program yet?
When Finnair decided to incorporate IEnvA as a basis for its environmental management system, the first immediate benefit was the support we had from IATA, who provided a free support philosophy combined with a systematic way of doing common everyday tasks.
Airlines must first clarify internally what aspects and impacts need management. And IEnvA provides operators with the necessary help and support to identify and understand both aspects and impacts. Another major benefit is the opportunity to participate in IATA IEnvA meetings where experts gather to discuss major topics and further develop the IEnvA standard. Once IEnvA has been completely incorporated, it provides airlines with a system to manage any significant aspect to any set target.