Airlines need to improve corporate sustainability reporting: PwC

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Airlines must be clearer in their corporate sustainability reporting, according to a new report from the global transportation and logistics arm of professional services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

In its report entitled Building Trust in the Air, PwC sampled 46 airlines, including Ryanair, Lufthansa, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, and found that 30 produced corporate sustainability reports. However, it noted that "62 of the top 100 airlines worldwide did not".

Of the 30 airlines analysed, PwC said that while 70% reported their carbon dioxide emissions and 77% reported on social activities such as education and volunteering schemes, only 25% volunteered data on customer complaints and 10% reported on lost baggage. No airline disclosed information around corporate sustainability in relation to executives' take-home pay.

The report noted that the airline industry uses many different methods of measuring corporate sustainability data and called for harmonisation.

PwC said a good report should align a business's corporate and sustainability strategies and make the case that a more sustainable business is better for stakeholders and should include environmental, social, economic and corporate governance data.

It said that as a result of the European Union emissions trading system, many airlines would be under increasing pressure to disclose such information, and airlines which do take corporate sustainability seriously "could get the edge in a very competitive market".

Of the 30 airlines analysed, PwC said some of the best reports were produced by Air France-KLM, Iberia, Delta Air Lines, LAN Airlines, Lufthansa, Southwest Airlines and UPS.