Creating a sustainable industry

In a session on sustainability, Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas, was optimistic about the industry’s future.

On the financial side, Joyce said that the extremities of the boom-bust cycle had finally been eliminated. He pointed out that “no matter what industry, you have good performers and bad performers,” but overall well-run airlines were focused providing a return for investors.

That return comes about through providing services that customers demand. But it doesn’t have to mean compromising on efforts to reduce aviation’s environmental impact. Environmentally, the industry has a good story to tell. He highlighted his own airline’s efforts. Some 10% of Qantas passengers offset carbon emissions and the airline has a number of other initiatives too. It’s Perth-London service, for example, took 11% of weight out of the flight, saving fuel and the resultant emissions.

And there was a “no waste” flight between Sydney and Adelaide that created plenty of positive coverage. But, said Joyce, such positive coverage was too rare, and he called on the industry to improve its environmental messaging. He cited a study that noted many people aren’t aware or don’t have a view on aviation’s environmental efforts. “There is a vacuum to fill,” he said. Joyce suggested that trust is the starting point. Qantas, for example, is one of the most trusted brands in Australia. And airlines must become as good at getting their environmental message out as they are at selling their products. “And it’s a good message,” concluded Joyce. “Because we have done things no other industry has done.

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