As part of its ongoing commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below +2°C, the aviation industry must step up its sustainability efforts.
For this reason, Air France is launching “Air France ACT” setting out the airline’s new CO2 emissions reduction strategy.
This strategy is comprised of three priorities:
- Reducing the direct emissions generated by Air France operations
- Reducing indirect emissions generated upstream and downstream of the company’s activities
- Supporting projects that absorb CO2from the atmosphere.
“Air France ACT” embodies the transparent, pragmatic and science-based approach adopted by the company to ensure its environmental transition through concrete and measurable actions.
Decarbonising aviation will be difficult and will take time. This process relies on close cooperation between the different stakeholders: aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers, fuel suppliers, airports, air traffic control, public authorities, research institutes and academia.
30% less CO2 emissions per passenger/km by 2030 compared to 2019, i.e., 12% less emissions in absolute terms
The new decarbonisation trajectory targets a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger/km by 2030 compared to 2019. This objective excludes so-called “offsetting” actions to consider measures that exclusively reduce direct and indirect emissions. It corresponds to a 12% reduction in the company’s total emissions between 2019 and 2030, in line with expected changes in activity, after a 6% reduction achieved between 2005 and 2019.
This trajectory is based on a scientific assessment method developed by the independent reference organisation SBTi (Science-Based Target initiative), to whom it was submitted. Founded by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the United Nations Global Compact and the World Wildlife Fund, SBTi has set CO2 emission reduction targets for the air transport sector, compatible with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below +2°C.
Net-zero emissions by 2050
By 2050, Air France aims to achieve net-zero emissions, i.e., a drastic reduction in its CO2 emissions coupled with contributions to projects that will remove from the atmosphere a quantity of CO2 equivalent to residual emissions each year. The company is working to define a precise and verifiable decarbonisation trajectory for 2050, based on a set of hypotheses – notably concerning an evolution of traffic – which may vary. Therefore, this is an evolving process, guided by the ambition to be in line with the scientific benchmarks, as is the case for the trajectory for 2030.
Five priority actions to reduce and avoid CO2 emissions
To achieve these goals, Air France is activating all the decarbonisation mechanisms it has at its disposal –
Fleet renewal with new-generation aircraft ‑ Airbus A220, Airbus A350 – more fuel-efficient, emitting up to 25% less CO2, and a noise footprint reduced by 33% on average. By 2030, these aircraft will make up 70% of the Air France fleet compared to 7% currently thanks to an investment policy of one billion euros per year between now and 2025.
Increased use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which will reduce CO2 emissions by 80% on average over the fuel life cycle, and not create competition with food production. Since 2022 and in accordance with French regulations, Air France has been incorporating the equivalent of 1% sustainable aviation fuel on all its flights departing from France. By 2030, the company aims to incorporate at least 10% SAF on all its flights, and 63% in 2050.
Eco-piloting techniques: taxiing using only one of the engines whenever possible, optimised flight paths using artificial intelligence, continuous descent in cooperation with the air traffic control authorities, to name but a few. These initiatives, made possible by the efforts of Air France flight crews trained in these practices, reduce CO2 emissions by 2 to 3% on average over the year.
Introduction of a more responsible catering offer, to reduce the carbon footprint. On board flights and in the lounges, Air France favours local, seasonal produce whenever possible. The company also offers customers a pre-selection of dishes before the flight in the long-haul Business cabin, as part of its active commitment to reducing food waste. In addition, by the end of 2022, Air France will have eliminated 90% of single-use plastics compared to 2018, after having replaced in 2019 plastic cups, cutlery and stirrers with sustainable alternatives.
Developing intermodal transport, to offer low-carbon transport alternatives for short distance journeys, notably within a reinforced partnership between Air France and French national rail operator SNCF.
At the same time, Air France is evolving, and its customers’ behaviour and relationship to travel is changing. Whether they aspire to show more restraint by travelling less often and staying for longer periods or combining business and leisure travel, Air France is committed to supporting customers by giving them the means to act at their level, by notably investing in its sustainable aviation fuel programme beyond regulatory requirements.