Air France scores high in sustainability challenge

Running aircraft engines on 30% SAF, and implementing eco-piloting techniques, such as taxiing on a single engine on the ground and optimising trajectories in real time, in coordination with air traffic control. These and other methods have been put to work by Air France to reach a record-high CO2 emissions cut of 45% (compared to regular operations), on two recent flights from Paris, to Lisbon and Montreal.

The Air France sustainable aviation effort was part of the airline's participation in the SkyTeam Sustainable Flight Challenge. 17 Members of SkyTeam join the program, not just to compete but to share valuable experiences and insight on reaching higher levels of sustainability in aviation.

Long-term plan

A focus on innovation and a long-term plan are essential transform aviation to a sustainable industry. And with the recently launched Air France ACT plan, the airline has a clear vision of where it is heading in its efforts to become a sustainable airline. But what can one airline do today, when all current measures and technology are applied in the most optimal way, to perform a sustainable flight? Together with partner companies and suppliers, SkyTeam partner Air France accepted the challenge. The airline went to great lengths to combine several CO2 emission actions on a flight to Lisbon and to Montreal.

Air France A350
High standard

The end result – 45% less CO2 emissions – is setting a high standard. But what measures have contributed to this result?

Pre-flight, these were the actions taken:

  • A message was sent to customers to ask them to limit the volume and weight of their baggage. In order to limit food waste, they are encouraged to pre-select their meals so only the necessary products are loaded on board;
  • In the lounges, more sustainable, local and seasonal products were offered and eco-responsible materials are used;
  • Fully electric ground operations, with electric push-back of the aircraft, transport of crews by electric bus between their base and the aircraft parking stand and electric transport of cargo.

During the flights, these were the actions that made the difference:

  • Use of new generation aircraft (Airbus A350, Airbus A220) emitting up to 25% less CO2;
  • Use of 16% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (produced by TotalEnergies) on the flight to Montreal and 30% on the flight to Lisbon, in the case of these two flights allowing a 90% reduction of CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle, higher than the industry average of 80%;
  • Use of eco-piloting techniques (taxiing on just one engine, use of on-board innovations for tactical trajectory optimisation, optimisation of climb and descent), allowing a 3 to 4% reduction in fuel consumption on each flight;
  • Use of more sustainable catering equipment (lighter, new generation meal trolley, recycled and recyclable trays, tableware made from celullose, FSC wooden cutlery and stirrers, paper cups, removal of individual plastic bottles);
  • Limiting waste by choosing a hot dish before the flight in all cabins and distributing comfort kits (produced from recycled materials and containing organic cosmetics) on request in Business and Premium Economy;
  • Selective sorting on board: sorting of plastic bottles, juice boxes and cans;