Demand for air travel continues unabated, requiring rapid industry innovation. On this, SAUDIA is leading the charge, with carbon-positive flights and onboard sustainability measures
The post-Covid era abounds with opportunity. Whichever sector, in every quadrant of the globe, the new dawn has brought with it a blunt ‘innovate or let the world pass you by’ reality. The challenges had to be confronted head-on, and as a result what we have witnessed across many industries is sheer tenacity.
While the pandemic posed insurmountable challenges, it has also brought with it a great pivot and, in tandem, an accelerated sustainability focus. This is not a causal effect, as sustainability practices were already being implemented, however the gap in operations due to the overall global ‘pause’ enabled many organisations to amplify their initiatives. The SAUDIA Group was no exception.
A multi-pronged approach to resuming services and growing the business exponentially and sustainably has been the focus. Sustainable tourism, a key tenet of Vision 2030, is on the rise and by 2030, 15% of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product will come from tourism, making it a hub for exploration, wellness and cultural immersion. As the national flag carrier, SAUDIA has a vital role in enabling green travel.
A full-scale review was conducted to assess what we can do to contribute to the global recovery efforts to return stronger, agile as ever. Resoundingly clear was that the time is now to go full steam ahead in terms of readiness to account for a surge in global demand.
For SAUDIA Group, and peers in the airline industry, we have returned to pre-Covid travel numbers and have seen a surge in demand ahead of forecasted levels, further cementing the need to ensure every facet of the operation is digitalised and environmentally sustainable. Through incremental steps, we are collectively making a mark, together.
Whether it is through aircraft line maintenance, onboard product and cuisine, airline ticketing and sales – which is virtually all cloud and web based – or SAUDIA’s role as the official airline partner of the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E motorsport series, it’s clear that momentum is unstoppable. Being recognised by the SkyTeam airline alliance for ‘best customer engagement’ for our innovative inflight lab in partnership with SimpliFlying as part of the Sustainable Flight Challenge was a humble highlight and an instrumental step in our net-zero journey. In addition to ‘best customer engagement’, SAUDIA also won ‘best employee engagement’. We were also a finalist in a further three categories: great CO2 reduction medium haul, lowest CO2 emissions ground handling and best sustainable innovation (in-flight).
Leveraging partnerships is essential and in coordination with Airbus, Boeing, GE, CFM and Carbon Click among others, various initiatives are under way to ensure the maintenance of the aircraft fleet is managed with sustainable products and methods. This year in May, SAUDIA flew the world’s longest carbon-positive flight in the world on record yet, and is piloting several major cities worldwide, in which we have flown carbon net-positive flights.
In conjunction with the airline being among the first signatories to the Saudi government’s Voluntary Carbon Market – the first of its kind in the Middle East North Africa Region – aviation in Saudi Arabia is taking a solid stance on reducing its carbon footprint by offsetting emissions.
From low-carbon aviation fuel to vertical farming, we are endeavouring to do all that we can to make our aviation ecosystem greener than ever. Our latest venture is lowering ‘food miles’ by replacing food imports through our partnership with Red Sea Farms, a Saudi AgTech company, to provide airline meals with sustainable, local-sourced products.
We are also pleased to announce our participation in the Voluntary Carbon Market, which connects the supply of carbon credits with demand from investors, corporates and institutions wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 will see 100 million visits to Saudi Arabia by the end of the decade. A cornerstone of that vision is for the Kingdom to be a leader in sustainable, eco-friendly travel and tourism.