Air France’s environmental commitment

Air France-KLM is serious about the environment. So serious it flew more than 150 journalists to Paris earlier this week to make sure its environmental message reached every corner of the world it serves.


The message is simple – the carrier has significantly reduced its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and is committed to further reductions. It also supports the controversial Emissions Trading Scheme - as long as it treats all carriers from all regions equally – and is fighting climate change through a reforestation project with non-profit organisation in Madagascar.



The message was communicated through a three hour press conference that included presentations on Air France‘s environmental commitment from chief executive officer Jean-Cyril Spinetta (pictured), deputy chief executive officer Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, senior vice president of new aircraft and corporate fleet planning Pierre Vellay, among others. Following the press conference there was an exhibition outlining how Air France is reducing emissions and fuel burn through fleet renewal, changes to operational procedures, and new lighter seats and cabin equipment.


Journalists from nearly every Air France destination, from South Africa to Brazil and Japan, were flown in and put up at the Charles de Gaulle Hilton Hotel, courtesy of Air France. Journalists were encouraged to use the carrier’s CO2 calculator to calculate how much CO2 their journey generated. Air France has the calculator on its website and encourages all its passengers to offset the amount of CO2 they generate by contributing to one of several projects.


In the Q&A session after all the presentations, Spinetta acknowledged not many passengers have so far chosen to be carbon neutral: “It’s not buoyant. It’s a limited number of people. That’s one reason why we are having this press conference.”


Oddly enough I didn’t hear of a single journalist choosing to offset his or her CO2 emissions by donating to one of Air France‘s sponsored projects. Of course that includes myself.


My journey wasn’t very long but it certainly would have been more environmentally friendly to take the Eurostar from London St Pancreas to Paris Gare du Nord rather than a fuel guzzling BAe 146 from London City to Charles de Gaulle. Speaking of which, Spinetta said he expected demand for short-haul travel to decrease and Air France is interested in launching a high-speed train service on intra-European routes “in order to stay close to our customers”.


Air France-KLM clearly wants to remain the world’s largest airline group but that doesn’t mean it needs to be the biggest polluter. With an environmentally friendly strategy of operating trains instead of aircraft on short-haul routes and operating new-generation aircraft on medium and long-haul routes, Air France wants to make sure the world knows it is serious when it comes to the environment.

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