Etihad Airways has signed multiple partnerships and collaboration agreements with the aviation industry’s top manufacture, suppliers and stakeholders at the 2021 Dubai Airshow, bringing aviation’s leading organisations together under its strategic sustainability programme to drive decarbonisation creating the industry’s most comprehensive multi-organisational partnership to reduce Co2 emissions globally.
The airline’s sustainability programme, which to date has been focused on the airline’s fleet of GEnX powered Boeing 787’s under the Greenliner Programme, will now be complemented by a similar programme focussed on maximising the opportunities presented by the inclusion of the Rolls Royce XWB powered Airbus A350 fleet. The first of Etihad’s A350’s, launched today at the Dubai Airshow as the “Sustainability50”, carries a unique “UAE50” livery in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the federation of the UAE and the airline’s commitment to the 2050 target of net-zero carbon emissions.
Etihad’s work with partners including Boeing, GE, Airbus and Rolls Royce supports the organisation’s strategic objectives to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions intensity in its passenger fleet by 2025, cut 2019 net emissions by 50% by 2035, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Speaking at Dubai Airshow, Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, acknowledged the uniting of these industry players for decarbonisation is a unique and important step forward for the industry: “There's no silver bullet for this one, no obvious single act that will provide a solution. It's going to require the combination and the sum of many different organisations and governments working together for small, incremental improvements.
“Governments and regulators must help the industry to drive innovation for long-term solutions to decarbonising aviation. Support is needed for the development of an affordable and sufficient supply of sustainable fuels. Optimising flight paths on the busiest routes in the world would prevent untold amounts of Co2 from being pumped into the atmosphere. There is a big opportunity here that doesn’t require any new technology to implement and could be implemented today if there was a will.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 on global aviation, Etihad’s Greenliner programme implemented key sustainability initiatives in 2020 and 2021 to test and develop long term decarbonisation solutions for commercial application. Thanks to the success of the program over the past 2 years, and the airline’s continued focus on sustainability, Etihad has revised its targets for CO2 reduction and is committed to remaining at 50% of 2019 emissions as flight operations grow in the post-pandemic world, based on its fleet of high-performance, sustainable aircraft. The Dubai Airshow in 2021 saw the renewal of the Greenliner Program.
Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “Partnership is critically important to decarbonize our industry, and we are honoured to work side-by-side with Etihad to advance sustainable aviation. Our flight test programs and other joint efforts over the past two years have clearly demonstrated the value of industry collaboration.”
Based on Etihad’s fleet of 787s, the renewal today of the Etihad, Boeing and GE agreement under the Greenliner Programme will also see a renewed focus on propulsion, exploring new opportunities to test new technologies from GE Aviation and GE Digital that lower emissions.
John Slattery, President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Aviation, said: “Decarbonization is a challenge that the entire aviation industry faces. The only way that we can address it is with agreements like this MOU with Etihad. Through this agreement, GE will be able to test innovative technologies that can help reduce emissions as well as enhance the time on wing of our GEnx engine, which may benefit Etihad and all our airline customers.”
Mr Douglas went on to say: “As we continue our march towards sustainable aviation, we know that we cannot do this alone. Etihad’s Greenliner Programme was designed as a vehicle for collaboration, successfully bringing together over 50 partners in the past two years. As we now expand that Programme with the introduction of the A350 under the Sustainability50 programme, we once again make a call to arms, inviting more stakeholders across the aviation industry to help us on this path.”
Etihad’s partnership with Airbus establishes a formal framework to collaborate for sustainability across a number of core areas on Etihad’s A350 fleet, in line with the organisations’ respective sustainability programmes to improve aviation’s environmental performance. Key areas for collaboration include the promotion and commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel, waste and weight management, and the development of data-driven analysis.
Mikail Houari, President Airbus Africa Middle East, said: “Airbus is leading the industry in the collective decarbonisation efforts needed for sustainability. Airbus’ clean sheet design A350 is the latest generation widebody offering real benefits to operators such as Etihad Airways. Less fuel consumption and lower operating costs mean business sustainability as well as improved environmental performance. We are looking forward to building on our long-standing relationship with Etihad Airways.”
The introduction of the Rolls-Royce XWB engine powering the A350 fleet is yet another credential in Etihad’s drive for sustainable operations, given the renowned fuel efficiency of this modern engine. Etihad’s agreement with Rolls-Royce is built around maximising the enormous potential of this engine, and beyond, targeting the application of electrification technologies and hybrid systems, together with the use of electric motors for commuter aircraft and the fast-emerging urban air mobility (UAMs) sector.
Chris Cholerton, President of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, said: “Our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 can only be achieved by working collaboratively with our valued customers and stakeholders. Our long-standing relationship with Etihad Airways provides an excellent foundation to build innovative solutions that can meet the needs of new trends in aviation as we embark on the same journey towards an increasingly sustainable industry.”
The pursuit of sustainable aviation goes beyond the manufacturers of aircraft and engines, and the Dubai Airshow launch of the airline’s expanded Sustainability Programme, included agreements with many new partners, both within and outside the aviation industry.