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The way we run our business


Climate change

Climate change is an issue of huge importance to us and we have a long-term commitment to address it. Our climate change programme covers four main areas: policy measures to curb emissions growth; voluntary carbon offsetting; fuel efficiency; and support for scientific research.

Our target is to reduce our net CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2050, relative to 2005. Meeting this target will require investment in new technology, sustainable biojet fuels and in cost-effective emissions reductions in other sectors of the economy through the creation of effective global carbon trading markets.

Governments will come together in December 2009 to discuss a future global agreement on climate change. International aviation emissions were not included in the Kyoto Protocol, but we believe that they must be incorporated into this new agreement. We are playing a leading role in aviation groups to develop a global policy approach for the sector.

In December 2008 the European Union finalised the conditions for including aviation in its Emissions Trading System (ETS). With our experience of emissions trading since 2002 we are well placed to meet the EU ETS requirements.

Our offsetting scheme allows passengers to add a carbon offset when they book a flight through During 2008, some 150,000 customers offset over 55,000 tonnes of CO2 in this way and their contributions have helped fund UN-certified carbon cutting initiatives in China and Brazil. In March 2009 our scheme became the first airline offset product to meet the requirements of the UK Government’s Quality Assurance Scheme for Carbon Offsetting – a guarantee that we are achieving genuine, additional and measurable carbon reductions.

We continue to look for ways to improve fuel efficiency and over 600 projects have so far been assessed. Of these, 55 have been implemented, delivering over 65,000 tonnes of CO2 savings, equivalent to nearly 21,000 tonnes of fuel. In addition, we have reduced CO2 emissions associated with our UK property portfolio by nearly 11 per cent.

In 2008 our carbon efficiency, expressed in grammes of CO2 per passenger kilometre (gCO2/pkm), was just over 107 grammes. Our target is to improve that figure to 83 gCO2/pkm by 2025. Our carbon footprint was 17.6 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008.

We are also supporting a number of scientific research projects. These include the European Commission’s IAGOS project which is investigating whether aircraft can be used to collect atmospheric data in-flight and a partnership to develop new policies on preventing deforestation.



tonnes of CO2 were offset by customers in 2008.


of dry waste at Heathrow and Gatwick was recycled in 2008.

“In March 2009 our carbon offset scheme became the first airline offset product to meet the requirements of the UK Government’s Quality Assurance Scheme.”

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