CTMs turn their attention towards driving sustainable travel programmes

CTMs are once again placing more focus on sustainability now that the Covid situation is under control

Corporate Travel Community (CTC) members have reaffirmed their commitment to “environmental sustainability” in their travel programmes, with many saying they plan to strengthen “core value statements” after having had to prioritise duty of care in the last year.

During last week’s CTC Roundtable discussion, a buyer from a pharmaceutical company, which had set clear sustainability guidelines for business operations, was seeking suppliers with “sustainable missions” to meet its 2030 goals, adding it was already working with a TMC on how to offset carbon emissions.

CTMs are once again placing more focus on sustainability with the Covid situation is under control

He continued: “It is not only about suppliers, but on educating travellers to turn off hotel room lights, to use less water, to take public transport instead of a taxi from the airport and to use technology to track carbon emissions.”

CTMs acknowledged the airlines were taking the sustainability lead in reducing carbon emissions in the type of fuel and aircraft used, and Shirley Yuen, regional director – global and strategic sales Asia Oceania Sale Office, Japan Airlines (JAL), said its long-term goal was to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Yuen said: “JAL has set up a specific department to address this because it is of utmost importance for our clients.”

An insurance industry CTM shared that her company was working with its TMC on cutting carbon emissions, tracking travel patterns and how to plan to drive sustainability better.

The Delhi-based buyer of a global professional services company, who acknowledged sustainability took a back seat at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, noted the global travel team did not only look at travel sustainability.

He pointed out that facilities, the type of rental cars provided, etc, were also part of the sustainability strategy, and the travel target is a 2024 deadline to deliver “real-time flight bookings and carbon emissions” and airfares with a “threshold for reducing carbon emissions”.

In addressing the sustainability challenge, CAPA – Centre for Aviation founder and chairman emeritus, Peter Harbison, said “finding a balance between an existential threat and a threat to our existence was not an easy equation”.

“Sustainability and the recovery of air travel need to go hand in glove,” he said, adding the focus for governments should remain on how to reduce carbon emissions rather than measures such as new taxes.

Harbison commented: “Incentivising the creation of new sustainable fuels for aircraft is a real step in the right direction. Sustainability is a critical part of the whole aviation equation.”

A positive outcome from the collapse of air travel demand, he noted, was that global passenger levels were similar to what was last seen in 2005, that global aviation emissions had reduced significantly and would remain “well below 2019 levels for some years to come”.

According to Harbison, longhaul international air travel accounted for around 40 per cent of emissions in 2019 and flight levels will be constrained for at least two years; and with airlines operating around half the wide-body fleet of 2019 alone would help reduce previous aviation emissions by around 20 per cent.

But the reduction in air travel in 2020 was unprecedented, and it is already starting to recover as Covid-19 vaccination programmes become more widespread, he added.

As the recovery continues, he said the industry would have to – and be seen to – take bolder steps to produce new solutions and show progress is being made because “governments, businesses and investors will increasingly pressure the aviation industry moving forward”.

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