In a global first for the airline industry, Portuguese airline Hi Fly made the first-ever jet-age passenger flight with not a single-use plastic item on board.

While some airlines like Alaska Airlines has cut plastic straws, and Air New Zealand and Delta are cutting their plastic usage, there hadn’t yet been an airline or flight that functioned entirely without single-use plastic items.

Hi Fly changed that on December 26th, when it took off from Lisbon on its way to Natal in Brazil. The first flight was part of a ‘plastics-free’ trial; the carrier announced four trial flights by its wide-body Airbus A340, 9H-SUN. Over 700 passengers will take part in the trial.

Hi Fly President Paulo Mirpuri said: “This historic Hi Fly flight, without any single-use plastic items on board, underlines our commitment to making Hi Fly the world’s first ‘plastics-free’ airline within 12 months.

“The test flights will prevent around 350 KG of single-use, virtually indestructible plastics from poisoning our environment.

“Over 100,000 flights take off each day around the world and, last year, commercial aircraft carried nearly four billion passengers. This number is expected to double again in less than 20 years. So, the potential to make a difference here is clearly enormous.

The test flights will help us trial the many substitute items we have developed and introduced them, in a real-world environment.

Among the scores of single-use plastic items that have been replaced are: cups, spoons, salt and pepper shakers, sick bags, packaging for bedding, dishes, individual butter pots, soft drink bottles and toothbrushes.

And among the many innovations presented to passengers on the flight, by the Hi Fly environmental experts, will be bamboo cutlery, an array of paper packaging, and containers that, once used, can be readily composted.

“We know we may encounter some initial teething problems, but we are confident of addressing these over the coming months.

“We know, too, from the feedback we have received from client airlines and passengers, that it’s the right thing for the airline to be doing."