SINGAPORE: The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group on Monday (May 24) announced its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“The Group’s airlines, Singapore Airlines, Scoot and SIA Cargo, will use multiple levers to achieve this goal,” SIA and Scoot said in a joint media release.
“These include investing in new-generation aircraft, achieving higher operational efficiency, adopting low-carbon technology such as sustainable aviation fuels and sourcing for high-quality carbon offsets.”
The airlines said that this pledge reinforces the group’s “long-standing strategy of working towards decarbonisation and environmental sustainability across its operations”.
SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said that the commitment strengthens the group’s leadership role in sustainability.
“We have remained focused on our sustainability goals even as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Goh said.
“We know that this is also an increasingly important issue to both our customers and staff.
“With today’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions, we buttress the SIA Group’s leadership position on this topic and reinforce our commitment to finding ways to tackle our impact on the environment.”
The most effective and direct way for an airline to lower carbon emissions currently is to operate a young fleet of aircraft, Mr Goh said, noting that the SIA Group’s fleet is one of the world’s youngest.
The average age of the SIA Group’s aircraft is five years and 10 months.
“Over the last year, we have retired 45 older aircraft. We will be gradually replacing them with new-generation aircraft that are up to 30 per cent more fuel efficient, and will substantially lower our emissions in coming years,” Mr Goh said.
Aircraft in the SIA Group’s order book include Airbus’ A320neo family and A350-900, as well as Boeing’s 787 family, 737-8 Max and 777-9.
Mr Goh said that the SIA Group has to work with other parties to fulfil its sustainability ambitions.
“However, we can’t achieve our goals on our own. We will continue to collaborate with governments, the airline industry and partners such as aircraft manufacturers, technology providers and fuel suppliers, both in Singapore and around the world,” he said.
“We must work together to push the envelope, and find innovative solutions that help us meet our targets on this journey.”
The SIA Group will also work with stakeholders to develop a decarbonisation plan which gels with Singapore’s aim to strengthen its air hub, SIA and Scoot said.
“As the SIA Group embarks on this journey towards net zero emissions by 2050, it will continue to collaborate with like-minded partners to develop a robust sustainable aviation fuel supply chain and carbon market,” the airlines said in its release.
“This includes working together with stakeholders in Singapore to develop a holistic decarbonisation plan, which complements Singapore’s goal of strengthening the country’s air hub and maintaining its competitive advantage into the future.”
In making the announcement of its emissions pledge, SIA and Scoot highlighted the SIA Group’s track record in pursuing sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.
Last year the SIA Group had 20,000 solar panels installed at its office buildings in Singapore.
“These generate renewable energy that provides up to 18 per cent of its electricity demand, or enough to power around 2,300 four-room apartments in Singapore for a year,” the airlines said.
In another move in 2020, SIA introduced an economy class meal concept which uses sustainable paper packaging and bamboo cutlery, reducing the use of single-use plastics by 80 per cent and halving the weight of meal packaging.
“This packaging weighs 50 per cent less, helping to lower fuel consumption,” SIA and Scoot said.
“Everything from the tableware to the food waste will be sent to an eco-digester to be converted to refuse-derived energy pellets that can replace fossil fuels and coal.”
SIA has also teamed up with Singapore-based food waste management start-up Lumitics to help minimise the amount of food waste the airline generates.
To reduce paper waste, SIA has stopped offering physical newspapers and magazines on its flights, instead providing them to passengers via an “e-library” on its mobile app.
Scoot, meanwhile, moved its physical in-flight menus, duty-free shopping catalogues and in-flight magazine to an in-flight portal in December 2020.
“These initiatives have helped to reduce the take-off weight of SIA and Scoot aircraft,” the airlines said.
“As a result, both airlines have reduced their fuel consumption on all flights and this translates into lower carbon emissions across the Group network.”
The SIA Group also has a “relentless focus on increasing fuel efficiency through improvements in operational procedures”, SIA and Scoot said.
This includes investing in engineering improvement packages to reduce drag and improve engine efficiency, and improving fuel productivity through aircraft weight management and the optimisation of flight routes.
“Innovations in technology and data analytics will also pave the way for more significant improvements, and the Group will continue to engage research institutions to explore such ideas,” the airlines said.
Singapore Airlines has been an active member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group since 2011, working with stakeholders to scale up the use of sustainable aviation fuels across its network.
The SIA Group also participates in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, which aims to cap the growth of carbon emissions in the industry from 2020.
“While offsetting is particularly important in the mid-term, it is also expected to remain relevant in the long run to mitigate residual emissions,” SIA and Scoot said.
“In order to secure high-quality carbon offsets, the Group will continue exploring pathways through partnership that will allow us to source high-quality carbon offsets.”