10 November 2017

Sustainability and Aviation: How TUI Group gives wings to environmental management

TUI places a key focus on sustainability. As aviation accounts for over 80 per cent of TUI Group’s carbon footprint, it is a special focus of TUI’s current ‘Better Holidays, Better World’ sustainability strategy. Numerous measures have been launched to help reduce the environmental impact of TUI airlines – including a fuel efficiency programme which is helping to reduce CO2 emissions. And the six airlines in TUI’s fleet already include some of the most carbon-efficient airlines – in particular TUI fly in Germany and TUI Airways (previously Thomson Airways) who got top marks in the 2016 atmosfair Airline Index.

TUI’s Better Holidays, Better World aviation goal is to operate Europe’s most carbon-efficient airlines and reduce carbon emissions per passenger kilometer by ten per cent by 2020. Several approaches have been adopted to achieve that goal. One of them is investing in cutting-edge aviation technology. This is the best way to save fuel. TUI Group was the first integrated tourism group to launch the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The Dreamliner’s consume around 20 per cent less jet fuel than comparable aircraft, due to their lightweight construction, enhanced aerodynamics and fuel-efficient engines. By 2019, TUI will operate 17 Dreamliners. In January 2018, TUI Group will also start to take delivery of the new more efficient Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Another approach has been retrofitting: older aircraft types have been retrofitted with new technology, e.g. innovative split-scimitar winglets. These winglets help to save fuel. However, the focus is not only up in the air. After all, the environment can also benefit greatly from improvements on the ground. TUI has, for instance, worked in cooperation with Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and waste contractor Suez to introduce a recycling facility to separate paper, glass, cans and plastics from TUI’s planes so that those waste streams can be recycled. Additionally, the Group is seeking to cut back paper consumption. “Apart from modifying the planes themselves, technology also plays a crucial role for flight operations and scheduling. For instance, tablets and smartphones are now used for flight inventory management, crew registration, inflight sales and a number of other previously paper-based activities”, says Magdalena Golebiewska, TUI Group Environment and Fuel Manager. Dozens of other environmental measures have also been launched: e.g. regularly washing the engines to cut fuel consumption, using lighter seats, single-engine taxiing (saving 40kg of fuel per take off) and optimising the amount of water carried on board to reduce weight on the aircraft.

The long-term challenge for aviation is to find sustainable alternatives to jet fuels. TUI engages in research programmes regarding fuels of the future. For example, our participation in the AlgaePARC project in Bonaire is working to develop sustainable aviation fuel from algae and as part of our ecoDemonstrator programme with Boeing a new type of sustainable fuel was tested. However, there is a long way to go. After all, the fuels of the future will have to compete with jet fuel both in economic and qualitative terms. Up to 50 parameters have to be certified before a fuel is approved for use. Until reaching this breakthrough, TUI’s top priority is and remains to reduce fuel consumption as much as possible.