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Etihad to operate net-zero emissions flight to COP27 in Egypt

The airline will fly delegates to COP27 climate summit from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi via Sharm-El-Sheik

Etihad to operate net-zero emissions flight to COP27 in Egypt
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

As part of its sustainable push, and as airlines face pressure from environmental groups to reduce their carbon footprint, UAE’s Etihad Airways announced that it would operate the first net-zero flight powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The flight will carry delegates to Egypt’s COP27 climate change conference from Washington Dulles Airport to Abu Dhabi via Sharm El Sheikh. 

The Abu Dhabi-based airline collaborated with World Energy to operate the flight, Boeing 787 Greenliner, through a book-and-claim system. The flight will use regular Jet-A1 gasoline, while the SAF that Etihad purchased will be transported to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) fuel system and utilized on flights by other airlines.

Etihad Airways said this would be the first net-zero flight powered entirely by the SAF book and claim system, showing a “feasible path” to net-zero commercial aviation using current technology.

“This initiative is about proving net-zero commercial aviation is possible, but equally facing up to the significant logistical challenges the industry faces to turn the possibility into a routine,” said Mariam Alqubaisi, head of Sustainability & Business Excellence, Etihad Airways.

As a follow-up to Etihad’s EY20 Sustainable Flight operation from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi in October of last year, the net-zero flight is a significant milestone. Compared to the same flight in 2019, the flight had 72% fewer emissions.

According to Alqubaisi, the goal here is not just to address Etihad’s emissions but to aid the entire sector in tackling the greatest problem we will face in the coming 30 years.

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