Half of airlines increasing ESG investment, according to report

New research has found that half of airlines are increasing investment in ESG initiatives as the aviation industry’s focus on net zero intensifies.

A new report by Amadeus, a Spanish travel technology solutions company, showed that 54 per cent of airlines are looking to reinforce their climate commitments through ESG (environmental, social and governance) initiatives, and “recognise technology can play an important role in reaching net zero goals”.

Amadeus asked airlines what their top ESG priorities were: 33 per cent said sustainability and social impact of the travel and tourism industry and 30 per cent said sustainability education and capacity-building of employees, meanwhile 27 per cent said sustainable food sourcing and food waste.

Airlines also revealed which technologies they see as having the biggest impact on accelerating the achievement of environmental objectives, with 36 per cent citing AI interfaces and 37 per cent identifying virtual or augmented reality.

Meanwhile, almost half (47 per cent) of airlines said they believe technology will improve access to travel through integrated accessibility technology while travelling.

Jackson Pek, senior vice president and group general counsel at Amadeus, said: “As the travel industry continues to navigate the complexity of delivering on ESG targets, I’m encouraged by the optimism and the commitments being put in place”.

The new research also found where airlines are most focused on reducing their environmental impact. 54 per cent said operational efficiency improvements and 48 per cent said development of new aircraft technology.

Further, 44 per cent of airlines said improvements to existing aircraft technology and 37 per cent said carbon offsetting and other climate solutions. 34 per cent said carbon capture and storage technologies.

However, only 28 per cent of airlines said investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) was a key focus when considering ways to decarbonise, despite the aviation industry’s emphasis on the idea that SAF would be a critical measure in making air travel more green if to be sustained at current global volumes.

Amadeus also surveyed airports on how they are focusing on environmental commitments – 47 per cent said they plan to invest more in ESG initiatives in 2024 than they did in 2022, with 46 per cent saying they plan to spend the same on these initiatives.

Almost all (98 per cent) of airports surveyed said they believe technology will play an important role in helping the industry meet sustainability targets.

On the technologies that could have the biggest impact, 49 per cent said selected technologies that help with more sustainable procurement and sourcing, while 36 per cent said technologies that generate operational efficiency improvements.

Meanwhile, 34 per cent said selected technologies that help develop more alternative sustainable fuels and 33 per cent said generative AI interfaces.

Image credit: @joyt/Adobe Stock