Returning to the Skies With Sustainability in Mind
Each month, American Way features an article written from the perspective of an American Airlines team member — a unique way to connect the airline's customers with the people who care for them on life's journey. In the April issue, Jill Blickstein shares how American is focused on long-term sustainability as the airline returns its aircraft to the skies.
The last year has been tough, to put it mildly. In upending business as usual, the pandemic has reminded us what a privilege it is to travel and experience all that our spectacular planet has to offer. And amid the health crisis, warning signs about another crisis — the climate crisis — have grown.
As a business that today relies on fossil-based jet fuel, we recognize our responsibility to reduce our impact on the planet. And as our customers return to the skies, we are applying an extra measure of attention to work that will enable the discovery and wonder of travel for generations to come.
Guiding our efforts is a new and ambitious goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve that goal, we know we need to make big strides on fuel efficiency. We already have a young and fuel-efficient fleet of aircraft, relative to our major competitors. And we want to continue to bring planes into our fleet that are built for efficiency. We also want to operate those planes on flight paths that are built for efficiency. That means modernizing our nation’s air traffic control system, which could reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft by millions of tons each year.
The other side of the fuel efficiency equation is, of course, fuel. Last year, American took its first delivery of sustainable aviation fuel, which is made from renewable feedstocks instead of petroleum and emits 75% less carbon over its lifecycle. We want to use more sustainable fuel in our operation, but here’s the problem: It’s not yet available at scale or at a viable price point. To quicken our industry’s transition from fossil-based jet fuel to sustainable fuel, our team is working to advance public policy and market-based solutions that will help drive production and uptake.
As we pursue those long-term goals, we will rely on other tools for reducing our emissions, such as carbon offsets. We’re proud to offer our customers offsets through a partnership with Cool Effect, a nonprofit organization that applies extra rigor to the process of verifying that each offsetting project they work with meets the highest possible standards. If you’d like to offset the emissions associated with your flight, you can do so via the Cool Effect website.
Taken together, these actions represent American’s comprehensive commitment to sustainability. We know that our business has an impact on the environment, but you can be confident knowing that American is taking steps to protect our planet while we’re taking you where you want to go. These days, our customers expect sustainability to come standard — and that’s what we expect, too.
As we continue to build our airline back as demand returns, we intend to do so with sustainability top of mind.
Managing Director of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)