02 June, 2021

Sustainability report from Air France-KLM 2020 released

The Air France-KLM group has published its 2020 Sustainable Development Report which has shown that despite one of the worst years in the commercial aviation industry the airline group still continued to forge ahead with its objectives of reducing its environmental footprint. By 2030.

Air France-KLM has already begun its environment green journey by undergoing a fleet renewal and modernisation, the incorporation of sustainable aviation fuels and eco-piloting. The Group says it is also strengthening its commitment to corporate social responsibility: all of the Group's airlines are taking action to promote inclusion and diversity in all business lines through concrete actions aimed at fostering equal opportunities and well-being for all.

"The airline industry will continue to play an essential role in the years to come. I have every confidence in our ability to meet the challenges of our sector. The 76,000 employees of Air France - KLM are fully committed to making our Group a responsible European airline leader and enabling it to fully play its role as an accelerator of transitions. "Benjamin Smith, the Canadian Chief Executive Officer of the Air France - KLM Group, said. "Airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports, customers, partners: we must act collectively for the planet and invent the air travel of tomorrow, more responsible, creating sustainable value for all and continuing to connect people and cultures. "

Highlights of KLM’s sustainability activities 2020 

Fly Responsibly: reducing, replacing and compensating 

Compared to 2005, KLM has reduced its total CO2 emissions by an absolute four per cent and 31 per cent per passenger, per kilometre as of 2019. It must be noted of course that KLM’s production in 2020 deviated significantly from previous years as a result of which this year’s CO2 emission figures cannot be compared easily with other years and targets. For 2030, the goal is to reduce these levels by 15 and 50 per cent respectively. To this end, KLM continued to invest in more fuel-efficient aircraft with a lower noise footprint. Meanwhile, KLM’s CO2ZERO program enables passengers to compensate their CO2 emissions and in 2020, some 51,053 ton was offset this way. In 2020, Transavia partnered with KLM on CO2ZERO. KLM, which in 2011 was the world’s first airline to carry out a commercial flight partly fueled by Sustainable Aircraft Fuel (SAF), committed itself to use 14 per cent SAF of the total volume used in the Netherlands by 2030. The customer proposition was broadened by expanding the corporate biofuel program to cargo customers and Air France decided to adopt KLM’s corporate biofuel program in 2021. 

Ground operations and replacing short distance flights by train 

KLM’s ambition is to have zero emissions from ground operations by 2030. Therefore, KLM has invested in the electrification of ground equipment. Some 62 per cent of KLM’s ground equipment is now electric. Tests have been conducted at Schiphol with the use of electric taxi equipment. KLM is in favour of a European network of high-speed trains replacing short-distance flights. In early 2020, KLM replaced one of its five daily flights to Brussels with a journey on the Thalys. KLM is actively investigating with the Dutch rail company (NS), Schiphol Airport and the Dutch Government how to replace more short flights by trains. KLM expanded its notion of sustainability to not only encompass environmental goals, but to include the role it has in serving society, enabling economic activity and being one of the largest private employers in the Netherlands. 

First flight of Flying V scale model 

KLM already worked with academic institutions, airline partners and the government on several initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions. Strategies for achieving this include fleet renewal, the use of SAFs, optimising flight paths and procedures, the aim for emission-free airports and the adoption of the train for short distances. With the help of KLM, the Delft University of Technology made the maiden flight of its revolutionary Flying V model aircraft. KLM contributed to the action program Hybrid Electric Flight, which was submitted to the Dutch parliament. More waste and weight reduction initiatives have been worked on with external partners like the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. 

KLM aims at a complete sustainable transformation 

KLM expanded its notion of sustainability to not only encompass environmental goals, but to include the role it has in serving society, enabling economic activity and being one of the largest private employers in the Netherlands. This deepening and broadening of KLM’s sustainability ambitions aligns well with KLM’s restructuring plan ‘Building Back Better. Within this context, KL    M developed a vision of how sustainability applies to the people-side of the business, by means of a ten-year roadmap that will improve staff engagement, diversity and inclusion, community engagement and human rights across the supply chain. Engagement for sustainability has increased in 2020. Sustainability was integrated into KLM’s Compass, which outlines the values, principles and behaviours of staff. A sustainability ecosystem of people involved in the subject was set up across the company, including Transavia, Cargo and E&M. An internal sustainability portal was built to inspire and educate staff throughout the company. 

The full report can be found here.

Pieter Elbers, CEO and President of  KLM commented:  "The COVID-19 pandemic has hit us hard and has led to the drastic restructuring of our company KLM, crucial for our survival. Yet, it also strengthened calls to make the aviation industry more sustainable. At the same time, aviation has clearly demonstrated its importance: air transport connects people and takes care of the transport of necessary goods, including vaccines. In our sustainability report 2020, you can read what we have done last year in order to keep on playing a pioneering role in the field of sustainability and how we are transitioning from flying more to flying better.

In 2019 we launched our KLM Fly Responsibly initiative, which consists of numerous endeavours, of which upscaling the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the cornerstone. Fly Responsibly will further support our goal to make our operation sustainable, as well as to innovate and cooperate with other external parties. These important pillars of our strategy have been – and still are – the foundations on which KLM’s operation is built and they will continue to play a vital role in the reconstruction of our company and sector after the COVID-19 crisis. An important outcome is the Green Recovery Statement, which KLM has drawn up together with the Dutch business community last year.

We are extremely proud and honoured that KLM - together with our colleagues at Air France – is ranked again in the top of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index 2020 for the 16th time in a row. Dedication and hard work are needed to make the sustainable transformation of our companies complete."

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